• Sarah Raad

Free Will

Free Will was not given to us to TRAP us, but it was given to us for JOY – for pure JOY!

The Angel Gabriel Comes to Mary (Unknown Artist)

One day, during the recent Christmas summer school holidays – while their mother was working – one of my nephews and a couple of my nieces came over to spend the day with my children.

As I wanted to entertain all the children during the day, we decided to walk up to the shopping centre together and see what there was to see there.

As is often the way in January, on that particular day, there was a large clearance table of clothes for boys and one for girls as well. And seeing that the clothes were not very expensive – cheaper than a Happy Meal at McDonalds in fact – I told the children that they could each chose for themselves a t-shirt and shorts to have as their own.

Now, all six of those children had a blast choosing their clothes and matching their clothes to each other – and I had a simply marvellous time watching them chose.

And when we were done and as we were walking home – new clothes in hand – I started to think about Free Will… Because those clothes taught me something about this wonderful gift from my Beloved…

You see, many many times over the years I have questioned the gift of Free Will. Many many times I have thought to myself in the words of the 17th century poet, John Donne from his sonnet, “Batter my Heart”…

“Batter my heart, three-person'd God,… That I may rise and stand, o'erthrow me… Take me to You, imprison me, for I, Except You enthrall me, never shall be free,…”

And many times, I have prayed to God to take away my Free Will, because it seems as though my Free Will is the root cause of every problem in my life. If only, I often reason, I could not choose freely for myself and instead God choose everything for me – because then and only then could I actually do what is right!

And yet, here I sit – typing away – Free Will perfectly intact and still getting me into trouble every step of the way!

But those clothes taught me something very special…

You see, when I asked the children to choose an outfit for themselves, the first thing they said to me was, “Oh, but we don’t need anything. We have heaps of clothes.”

And this is sort of like me with Free Will. God gives it to me and my reaction is that I do not need it, that it is unnecessary for me.

And yet – while I do not need my Free Will any more than those children needed new clothes – God takes great joy in giving us FREEDOM (just as I took great joy in allowing those children to choose their clothes).

And it occurs to me that God LIKES to let us choose! And while it is true that VERY OFTEN we make poor choices – it is also true that SOMETIMES we make MARVELLOUS ONES!

We have only to look at the example of the saints who made choices that they remain our guiding light all the way to Calvary…

Just consider the perfect FIAT – the perfect acquiescence of Our Blessed Mother to the Divine Will – when, at the moment of the incarnation… “‘I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered. ‘May it happen to me according to your word.’ Then the angel left her.” (Luke 1:38).

For our Free Will – though it can land us in much trouble – can also bring great joy, both for us through our CHOICE to submit, and to God through that choice…

Think only of the comparison of Saint Simon Peter and Judas Iscariot. While Judas committed the only sin that cannot be forgiven, the sin against the Holy Spirit because he failed to ask forgiveness, which is what makes the sin unforgivable, Simon Peter wept at the feet of His Lord and chose to beg forgiveness for his sins and, as a consequence, was elevated to Pontiff…

For Christ was clear about Free Will… “Jesus said to the scribes, ‘Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin.’” (Mark 3:22).

And as I pack those new clothes away and reflect on the joy that we had in a morning of choice, it occurs to me that this gift of Free Will can give my Beloved great joy, if only I can use it for His glory…

And I can see a little more clearly just why He gave it to me – not as a trap… But for JOY, for pure JOY…

What a wonderous God He is! King of the Universe…

For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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