Sunday, November 13, 2011

Grace and Free Will......Real freedom

The Liturgy for last week-end contained a prayer for health of mind and body. The prayer asked for health to continue the work of Jesus Christ, which is asking for the health to do what our God has planned on us to do. He created us with a plan in mind. Each one of us has been created uniquely. Each one of us, no matter how we see ourselves, or are seen by others, is uniquely gifted destined to be a unique contributor to the totality of creation. When we find ourselves questioning our value, our worth-whileness, we need to remind ourselves all that is my reality is being woven into the whole of creation. Yes, even these moments of doubt and uncertainty have been woven into the totality of my life. As a consequence all that I have and am now experiencing in part of the totality of creation. What we think are throw away moments, moments to be denied, or if possible destroyed have become a part of living creation. All of this happens through the miracle of grace. Nothing goes to waste in our Creator's Creation. What we judge as worthless , or even shame-full, is not how God see the same reality. All, what we judge as good or bad, is woven into the total reality of creation. In our Creative Creators there is nothing that is not used. "There are", as one author has so wisely said, "no garbage cans in God's Kingdom". Nothing is denied its existence. Everything is woven into a living whole. Everything is woven into a wholeness. Everything is woven into holiness. This is the work of The Creative Power of God, which is also,The Power of Love, Who is, The Holy Spirit. Wherever there is love, there is, of necessity, creation.

In all of these mysterious workings, no one is doing anything by themselves. Co-operation, collaboration, is required. God relies on humankind to bring about the continuation of the perfection of His creation. He in us, and we in Him continues the perfection of a creation that has been in process for millions of years. This ongoing creation will not stop with our passing. As we have built on the efforts of so many, so many will come after us to continue the work we have been a part of. Each person, in every generation will be given the unique gifts, and grace necessary for their unique contribution. So, we are ever and always given a choice. We are given the choice to say yes, or no. That is how much our God loves us. He, the Ultimate Lover loves us into freedom. There is no force, there cannot be. It is intrinsically impossible for our God to force us to do anything. God does not make us do anything. He is not a puppeteer, pulling the strings, as we move on command, with no self control. There is that image of God in some people’s minds, that is not the living, loving, gracious God of a healthy spirituality.

When a person is healthy, personal boundaries are respected. Since our Father-God is the essence of health, our boundaries are always respected, and safeguarded. Sometimes, no, a great deal of the time, I wish God was not so healthy. A little dysfunction on His part would make my life so much easier. At times, it tees me off that God will not do for me what I can do for myself. I like things to be done my way, and on my terms. Not healthy thinking, so I am told!!!!! Such thinking leads to real dysfunction. When my little agenda allows no questions, and no opposition tolerated, this eventually leads to dictatorship. That old saying about absolute power corrupts absolutely, needs to be kept in mind! Even when it is more convenient to deny that particular wisdom. Will, can an ego trip like this last? Of course not. Eventually there comes, in all of these scenarios, painful collapse. This leads to apparent destruction, as the so called powerful one is overthrown. The false- self created, paper mache kingdom, is destroyed. This can, and will happen sometimes fast sometimes slow. The towers built will crumble. All that has constituted the kingdom turns to rubble. This is where faith, hope and endurance comes in. This is not the end, however. This is the beginning of a new creation. The first was the creation based on ego. The second is the creation is brought about by grace. The chaos brought about by the fall of that created by self, will is in direct contrast with the peace, joy, and love experienced in that new creation of grace. What has really happened is that our Creator God has taken the rubble of our kingdom, and created His Kingdom with it. (Rohr) That is why we have a sense of familiarity, yet we know something has changed. These changes are slowly, and gently revealed to us.

Thomas Merton has written the following about the above mentioned cooperation, and collaboration, " ....if I hope in God, I must also make confident use of the natural aids which, with grace, enable me to come to Him. If He is good, and if my intelligence is His gift, then I must show trust in His goodness by making use of my intelligence. I must let faith elevate, heal and transform the light of my mind. If He is merciful, and my freedom is a gift of His mercy, I must show my trust in His mercy by making use of my free will. I must hope and charity purify and strengthen my human liberty and raise me to the glorious autonomy of a son/daughter of God.

Some who think they trust in God actually sin against hope because they do not use the will and the judgment He has given them. Or, what use is it for me to hope in grace if I dare not make the act of will that corresponds with grace? How do I profit by abandoning myself passively to His will if I lack the strength of will to obey His commands? There, if I trust in God’s grace, I must show confidence in the natural powers He has given me, not because they are my powers but because they are His gifts. If I believe in God's grace, I must also take account of my own free will without which His grace would be poured into my soul to no purpose."