Freedom to Choose


Freedom to Choose

God didn’t create us to keep us under absolute control rather, God gave us freedom which is the power to choose. We can choose to obey or to disobey, to do good or to do evil. We all highly value our personal freedom. In fact, freedom is God’s greatest gift to us. Therefore, to be deprived of freedom is to be like a bird without its wings. But with freedom comes responsibility. Because we are free, we are also responsible for our own choices and we have to answer for them. There are benefits for choosing wisely and there are also consequences for choosing wrongly. After having given us freedom, God will never take our freedom away from us, even when we abuse it.

Jesus never forced anyone to follow him. Jesus knows that the only thing that has moral value and which helps us to grow is what is done freely. Virtue is when we have a choice to do good or evil. Virtue also cannot be imposed. It has to be freely chosen. In fact, virtue has great strength when it deliberately chosen.

This Sunday in the first reading, we see how Joshua puts a choice before the people just after they had entered the promised land to serve the true God of their ancestors or to serve the false gods of their neighbours. Joshua himself chose to serve The Lord. But he didn’t impose his choice on the people. They had to make their own choice. In the Gospel, we see the disciples of Jesus having to make a choice. In front of the Eucharistic bread, we also must decide whom we should follow. When we eat the Eucharistic bread, we must be clearly aware of what we commit ourselves to, to totally believe in all that Jesus taught and accept so as to identify ourselves with him.

Jesus realizes the difficulty that his disciples find in making a choice. In spite of the difficulties of his listeners, Jesus does not withdraw or make any compromise any of the demands he has made. After this many of his disciples went away and accompanied him no more. Jesus respects their freedom and does not force anybody to share his mission and does not compel anyone to eat his flesh.

Therefore, it is very important that we present the Gospel clearly, as our Master Jesus did, without adding or taking anything away from it. Each one of us should be free to decide and there should be no constraint and no threat. Everyone chooses differently. Jesus had definitely disappointed the majority of his followers, but a very small group of disciples accepted to remain faithful to him.

Finally, a life of love is neither easy nor comfortable. It demands self-denial, self-sacrifice, self-donation and struggling with one’s passions. This is why so many people prefer to follow an easier way. And this is the central challenge of today’s Gospel.

We are most free when we follow that subtle, personal and challenging call that is our vocation. Christian freedom flows from doing what God asks of us. Christian freedom is the realization of our life’s purpose. Christian freedom implies life in abundance which is what Jesus came share. But what we all have to face is that most of us, most of the time, don’t want to be free, we want to be comfortable. But by admitting how we prefer comfort to freedom is actually a step toward freedom if we can be honest with ourselves. By praying honestly, we can say we are afraid of God’s call, but prayer also deepens our relationship to God and to ourselves. In the depths of prayer, we begin to taste the richness of freedom, which is one of the flavors of life in abundance. The more we feast on God’s abundant life, the more we will want to share it with the world as God invites us to do in our vocation.

Fr. Susai Jesu, OMI