Posts Tagged ‘free will’

Sirach 15:15-20: Your Own Choice

Wednesday, February 22, 2017free-will-problem

We have reflected on Jesus’s admonition that we leave vengeance and judgment in God’s hands; and we have spent time exploring Jesus’ call that we love our enemies. Today we ponder words from Sirach. Words that remind us of the gift of free will we each hold in our hands, and hearts and minds.

If you choose, you can keep the commandments, and to act faithfully is a matter of your own choice.

We may want to make someone else responsible for our decisions; but when we are honest, we know that we are free to reject or to choose God.

God has placed before you fire and water; stretch out your hand for whichever you choose.

We may believe that we live in isolation, living invisibly, doing as we please and avoiding consequences; but when we are truthful we know that we are free to be open or closed to Christ.

Before each person are life and death, and whichever one chooses will be given.

We may believe that we are the source of our own intelligence and good fortune, reaping the rewards of a life well lived; but when we are candid we know that we are free to accept or refuse the healing of the Spirit.

For great is the wisdom of the Lord; God is mighty in power and sees everything; God’s eyes are on those who love the LORD, and God knows every human action.

There is no greater source of understanding than God. There is no greater heart of love than Jesus.

God has not commanded anyone to be wicked, and God has not given anyone permission to sin.

There is no greater power to heal than the Spirit. Let us rejoice that we live in the gift of God’s mercy, and that we have been given the freedom to make a choice of our own.

When we compare these verses with THE GOOD NEWS translation, we gain clarity and focus, discernment and wisdom. We find that we really do possess the gift of making our own choices.

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Galatians 5:1: In and for Freedom

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Girl jumping with rose petals in air

In freedom we are created. For freedom we must live.

In a season of intense political turmoil in the U.S. and in other parts of the world, we might be tempted to commandeer the word freedom to use it as best suits our views. Today we have the opportunity to examination Paul’s letter to the Galatians, and to reflect on a spiritual meaning of this concept.

Freedom is what we have—Christ has set us free! Stand, then, as free people, and do not allow yourselves to become slaves again. (GNT: GOOD NEWS TRANSLATION)

We might ask: Slaves of and for what? Slaves to a way of living that bears much fruit for me and little for others? Does this freedom come with, or in spite of, the exclusion of others?

For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. (NRSV: NEW REVISED STANDARD VERSION)

We might ask: Slaves of whom? The opinions of my neighbors? The viewpoints of my colleagues? Are we slaves to an affiliation that demands complete loyalty or one  that offers openness and inclusion?

Stand fast, and be not held again under the yoke of bondage. (DRA: DOUAY-RHEIMS AMERICAN VERSION)

We might ask: Freed by who and how? When did Christ set me free? Why? How was I previously enslaved?

So Christ has made us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get all tied up again in the chains of slavery to Jewish laws and ceremonies. (TLB: LIVING BIBLE)

We might reply: God has freely and lovingly chosen to create us out of God’s free will and ample heart.

Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you. (MSG: THE MESSAGE)

We might reply: We are made in the image and likeness of God; and this gift God gives us to cherish or to squander.

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. (NASB: NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE)

We might reply: We must free one another from the constraints of gossip and plots.

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. (KJV: KING JAMES VERSION)

We might reply: We must free one another from deceit and betrayal.

We have freedom now because Christ made us free. So stand strong. Do not change and go back into the slavery of the law. (ICB: INTERNATIONAL CHILDREN’S BIBLE)

freedomWe are creatures created in freedom by our fully-free and generous God to live a fully-free and fruit-bearing life. We must offer autonomy to others even as we are offered this same precious gift. We must live by true self-determination wherever we journey, break chains wherever we live and work, heal the wounds of bondage wherever we play and pray. For if we truly believe in freedom all the world will know, because we will offer one another this same generous and life-giving gift.

In freedom we are created. For freedom we must live.

Use the scripture link to compare other translations of this verse, or enter the word freedom into the blog search bar for more reflections.



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Matthew 21:18-22: Withering the Fig Treea-fig

Friday August 12, 2016

This week we have looked at the many ways in which  Jesus wants to heal us. We have seen him give sight to those who are blind, hearing to those who are deaf, and movement to those who are paralyzed. All he asks in return is that we use the gifts he freely gives us to bear fruit for the kingdom. Today we look at a Favorite adapted from a reflection written on October 26, 2009.

In today’s reading we come across a story that is troubling for some: the sudden way in which Jesus withers a fig tree that has not produced fruit. Here Jesus has just entered Jerusalem and has cleansed the temple of the money changers. In the next portion of this story we will see Jesus’ authority questioned and we will sit at the Master’s feet to listen to a series of parables. Footnotes tell us that we might see Jesus’ actions here as ill-tempered and arbitrary, but it is really a prophetic act portending the judgment that is to come upon Israel “that with all its apparent piety lacks the fruit of good deeds and will soon bear the punishment of its fruitlessness”.  (Senior 45) Here too, besides this obvious portending of the future, Jesus affirms the amazing power of faith – that if we believe we too might cause trees to wither and mountains to be lifted up.  What we read is a strange dichotomy that causes us to think . . . a tool which any good teacher will use: The placement of a puzzle before students so that they might be called to think outside of the normal typical story.  What is Jesus doing when he withers the tree?

We might pose the theory that Jesus would win more converts if he had caused the tree to flourish; but then we miss the importance of our own free will. We, like the fig tree, have been planted in our particular place. We, like the fig tree, may have to exert ourselves to bear fruit. We, like the fig tree, will be held to an accounting of our stewardship of the gifts we have been given.

figIn one of our favorite stories, Queen Esther shrinks from the work she sees lying before her because she fears the loss of her own life and the lives of her fellow Jewish exiles. When she balks, her uncle Mordecai reminds her: Even if you now remain silent, relief and deliverance will some to the Jews from another source; but you and your father’s house will perish. Who knows but it was for a time like this you obtained the royal dignity? (Esther 4:14) Who knows for which moment in time our gifts are meant? Who are we to parcel them out in a miserly fashion or to decide to keep these gifts safely tucked away for ourselves?

In Luke 12:48 at the close of the parable about the watchful servant, we hear Jesus remind us that much will be demanded of those who have been given much. We might think of this today as we move through our many small and big chores. What is it we have been given that we are asked to share? What can we do to be certain to produce fruit with the gifts we are given? And do we ourselves have the faith to wither trees and move mountains?

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.45. Print.  

For other views on this reading, click on the images above or visit: https://rgospel.com/2010/02/28/jesus-and-the-fig-tree/ and http://www.christianity.com/blogs/dr-ray-pritchard/how-did-the-fig-tree-wither-so-quickly.html 

Tomorrow, a gentle mastery.

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Friday, March 7, 2014

imagesCAIS5TV1baby feet in handsAmos 3

First Word

In 3:6, Amos states an important belief of ancient theologians, that God causes all events, even disasters. (Mays 650)  In the light of the New Testament, we see God as a forgiving parent, a source of infinite compassion, a God who delivers justice, who pulls good out of harm, who loves us so dearly that he allows us to make decisions . . . even though they may have disastrous results.

God says: When humans first began to believe in my existence, they saw the world as a dual entity in which people, places, ideas and dreams were either good or bad.  There was very little room for fringe thinking because life was so fragile and survival so difficult.  Methods, practices and customs that helped the species to survive were regarded as sacrosanct.  Your ancestors often shunned or even executed innovators and those who understood the wide and long view.  You have evolved and now some of you understand what Jesus means when he speaks of the common good.  You comprehend the importance of forgiving enemies.  And some of you live the life he models for you.  I know that some among you still live with the words from ancient days. You scramble to make your world safe by performing practices with no heart. You believe that a checklist of good deeds saves you when it is really my loving care that restores what you have lost. Rather than lose patience with yourself or with any of these lost children, come to me.  Call the fearful ones to me through your actions and words.  Resist the temptation to believe that I bring about disaster for those who do not follow The Way. Believe that my heart is big enough to love the cruelest among you, persistent enough to convert the most heinous among you, and durable enough to outwait the most cruel and stubborn among you.  The ivory apartments will be ruined through the actions of those who build them.  The horns of the altar will break through the corruption the church leaders allow.  And the many rooms of the wicked will be no more through the actions or inactions of their own lives.  The wicked may escape with the corner of a couch or a piece of cot . . . but they will flee into my relentless, loving arms.  This is my First Word that comes to you through my prophet Amos.

When we become inpatient with God’s plan as it unfolds before our eyes and into our lives, we must remember this First Word that Amos brings to us today.

Tomorrow, Second Word.

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 650. Print.

For an interesting post about being still to hear God’s word at www.hisinfinitegrace.com, click on the image above, or go to: http://hisinfinitegrace.com/2012/10/30/be-still-and-know-that-i-am-god-2/

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