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Human Freedom and the Choice to Serve
Human freedom reminds us that we are made in Gods image, and bear an important responsibility.
Deacons Circle -
Few principles are more important in our society than freedom of choiceyet few people consider the real purpose of this God-given freedom. Is free choice principally about a Dodge or a Nissanor is it given to us for a higher, more lasting purpose? Deacon Fournier describes the freedom that, inscribed in our being, shows us to be the image of God, and the responsibility that this freedom entailsto choose truth and the love of God. In a particular way ordained clergybishops, priests, and deaconsincarnate the choice to serve that is at the heart of each Christians vocation.
In a very profound sense, all of history (human history and the history of our own life) falls between two trees: the tree in Eden (where Eve chose to say no to the Fathers invitation to love and then attempted to blame another) or the second tree of Calvary (where the second EveMarystood in pure love). Will it be the tree of disobedience or the tree of obedience? The choice we must make is freely given, kenotic love.
Of course, the greatest example to us of this love is Christ, the deacon who Though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God, a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant (Philippians 2:6). This choice leads to a life of true freedom and is the heart of the diaconal vocation.
Yes, we are free to choose, as those of this age are so fond of proclaiming, but we are not free to declare the objects of our choice good or evil. God makes that choice. When we choose in a way that is contrary to His purpose and to the way of love, we call that sin. Sin is an abuse of the freedom to choose given to us by God (cf. CCC, n. 1730-1738).
God, who is our Father, did not want the obedience of puppets, but rather the love of sons and daughters. He invites us into a relationship of love with Him and with one another. We learn to live and to love by conforming our choices to what is true. This is a lifetime vocation. It is called the Christian life. We all live it according to our states of life, but within what the Church calls the Universal Call to Holiness.
Some incarnate that vocation as bishops, priests, or deaconsin ordained service. As deacons, we have a particular vocation to service. The choice is ours. No matter how many times you hear discouraging comments such as Father doesnt believe in deacons, remember the only choice is to love. Our vocation does not depend on whether a particular priest believes in our office or forgets that, even though he has been called to ordination as a priest, he is still a deaconyou do not lose the order. Our vocation and place in the Church, and our call into the world, was settled when the hands of Jesus, acting through his bishop, were imposed upon us. All that is left for us to do is to make the choice of service.
This capacity to choose is what reflects the very Imago Dei (the Image of God) in us. It sets human persons apart from every other living creature. The God who is Love wants us to love Him and one another (even those who hurt us) and to choose to do so FREELY! This is the Christian messagethis is the Christian life. But even the process of choosing did not begin with us, but with Him! St. Paul reminds us in his letter to the Colossians of the two times we were chosen by God: once when we were created, called into being in our mothers womb, and again when we were re-created in the womb of the Church at our Baptism!
Copyright © 2000 Deacon Keith A. Fournier
Deacon Keith welcomes your comments. Email him at The Catholic Guy.
Published with permission of Deacons Circle, a publication of Human Life International, the worlds largest pro-life and pro-family apostolate, Summer 1999.