Fr Noel's Homilies

Buzzword - Choice
The crowning jewel of human thought is to be found in a person's right to choose.  However, like so many of God's gifts, this right is a double edged sword - used well, it serves well; but, when abused, it destroys. The readings, today, touch on this gift of choice.

1Kings 19: 16-21: Elisha was a well-to-do farmer, happy in his way of life. However, when approached by the Prophet Elijah, he recognised  he was being called by God to serve in another vocation, namely, to be a prophet. Readily he agreed. As a sign of his total acceptance, he sacrificed part of his herd and plough!

Galatians 5: 1. 13-18 Here Paul gives an insight into the Christian understanding of freedom of choice. By calling on God's help and the example of Christ, we are able to subdue our natural inclinations to evil and so develop our full potential for goodness.

Luke 9: 51-62: The invitation Christ gives "to follow" Him can only be accepted freely. There are, of course, obligations that follow any acceptance of this invitation, and Christ lays it on the line - once you have put your hand to the plough, there is no turning back!

Point 1: The desire to be free is at the very root of human existence. Adolescents long for the day when they will be free to please themselves; for adults, their freedom is curtailed by the their need for security - the need to eat, to meet every day responsibilities, to provide for old age. For those who have reached the stage of feeling "secure", there is always an underlying fear that something may happen to deprive them of their hard earned freedom - the stock market may collapse, a bad investment, illness or accident. In the final analysis, happiness is to be found in that combination -"freedom plus security" .

Point 2: This innate desire to be free has sparked some of the great revolutions in history as people united to seek deliverance from oppressive regimes - the Hebrews led by Moses against the Egyptians; the slaves led by Spartacus against the Romans; the Serfs against the Barons to produce Magna Carta; the Industrial Revolution of England; the French Revolution, the American Revolution; the Resistance movements of World War 11; and, more recently and closer to home, the struggle of the East Timorese - to mention but a few examples of the continuing struggle to gain freedom for people by people.

Point 3: It is necessary to know, however, that "freedom" is not being able to say or to do exactly as one pleases. There are always certain constraints imposed by the community. St. Paul's famous words come to mind - "let not your liberty become a cloak for license". Frequently, one hears the comment "it's not my fault! it's the way I am!" or "I can't do without it" (whatever "it" may be); or, again, "I can't stand so-and-so". Such attitudes do not reflect an understanding of the gift of freedom as God intended. Genuine freedom, as God intended, is mastery of one's physical, emotional and spiritual drives to serve God's purpose. To encourage this understanding, major redemptive religions and philosophies have appeared down through the centuries and have provided varying degrees of satisfaction and security for millions of their followers.

Conclusion: The Christian understanding of "freedom" is found in that balance in our attitudes which enables us to be undisturbed by situations over which, otherwise, we would be inclined to get our necks in knots! In other words, the path to true freedom is to be found in discipline guided by "conscience" -  the ability to say "yes" or "no" as the situation demands and conscience approves..

Scriptural reference: "For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence". (Gal 5. 13)