Gift Of Faith: Gift Of Freedom
Thoughts on the First Readings -Joe Frankenfield
28nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
There are times when we ask what God wants us to do; there are times when we simply ask ourselves what’s best to do. The two questions are the same. The answers, however, can be very different.
Asking the question in terms of God’s will places our evaluations and our assumptions within the context of Jesus’ promise of God’s New World. Asking the question without reference to God’s will may deprive us of the support of Jesus’ promise.
Several years ago on a cold January day a young man told me that he had been thinking seriously about life after graduation. He considering the Peace Corps and teaching in a country short of schools and educational funding. “I know it’s risky,” he said. “My parents are leery of the idea and my friends – including my girlfriend – think I’m nuts. But, it’s something I can do to make things better and I think it’s worth the risk of being a few years behind in my career. Jesus didn’t mention being uneducated in his parable about people who helped him when he was in need, but he could have.”
The following year another student told me that she’d been thinking about her post graduation life and had looked into an inner-city community organizing job. It was a paid position, but barely. She would be essentially volunteering. She had reluctantly decided against the job however because she had little hope that it could make a difference and she believed that the practical decision was to begin the career in marketing and public relations she had trained for. “I don’t suppose that’s how things should be but that’s how they are,” she said by way of summing up.
These stories aren’t about two students, one of whom was a better person than the other. They’re about two students one of whom was freer than the other. I have no doubt that both will do good things in life. But from what each told me (and one never gets the full story about decisions like these) the first student felt stronger in the face of life as it is while the second felt more hemmed in and controlled by it. Which student ended up contributing more to life? I’ll never know. I do know which one felt the greater opportunity. And it was the faith context of his decision that opened the door.