By Karen Sheehy
I am picturing a long, slender stick with a perfectly notched “hand hold”. So much potential and so many uses. Immediately, I see my young son, now 16-years-old, using it to “take out” his imaginary intruders with the skill of a knight. “How brave,” I thought. Then, I see him using that same stick to destroy many ant hills merely to cause havoc on these unsuspecting communities. Next, I recall an industrious chimpanzee, living in the hills of Rwanda, using this tool to secure food from the cracks of a fallen hard wood. Same stick, so many potential uses. Some good and some bad, but all dependent upon the instincts, learned behaviors and habits of its manipulator. Unfortunately, no matter how many times I told my five-year-old not to stir a resting ant hill, it took many painful bites for him to acquire this valuable life lesson.
Today, we find a similar parental concern in St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, “Do not present the parts of your bodies to sin as weapons for wickedness, but present yourselves to God as raised from the dead to life and the parts of your bodies to God as weapons for righteousness,” (Romans 6:13). As a teacher and disciple, St. Paul seemed to understand my son’s ant hill temptation and the challenges facing a son or daughter given the free will to learn and choose a specific course of action. It is with firm and empathetic understanding that he teaches of God’s desired obedience “from the heart” patterned after the “teachings to which we were entrusted,” (Romans 6:17).
Which do I choose, loving obedience or debauchery? This is a question I ask myself daily. How do I choose the one necessary thing, love of God and others, when I live a life filled with unlimited possibilities, enticing distractions, and irresistible temptations? Today’s responsorial psalm provides the answer, “Our help is in the name of the Lord,” (Psalm 124:8). This is a Christian’s greatest gift, “for sin is not to have any power over you, since you are not under the law but under grace,” (Romans 6:14). “We were rescued like a bird from the fowler’s snare; broken was the snare, and we were freed,” (Psalm 124:7).
In today’s Gospel, we learn about an additional gift, humanity’s free will. Here, we find Jesus instructing His disciples to “stay awake” and “be prepared, for at an hour we do not expect, the Son of Man will come,” (Lk 12:40). Created in God’s likeness, we are given the free will to choose between a life of beatitude and devotion to God, or unfaithfulness. Like my five-year-old son, we can choose to use our stick for good or chaos. Fortunately for us, we have a patient and loving God, and Church, ready and willing to instruct us in the ways of righteousness, for “blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so,” (Luke 12:43).
About the Author:
Karen Sheehy is a devout Catholic, wife and mother, motivational speaker, blogger and developer of spiritualsafariguide.com, your passport to a world of spiritual inspiration and understanding. To learn more about Karen Sheehy and her upcoming book entitled, The Healing Eyes of Mercy. A Journey Towards the Light of God’s Love, visit http://www.spiritualsafariguide.com