The Gift of Free Will

03-27-2022Weekly ReflectionFr. Manasseh Iorchir, VC

One of the most precious gifts bestowed on each and every one of us is the gift of free-will, the capacity to choose for ourselves among options what we consider beneficial. Ordinarily, God does not interfere with our free-will. However, when we make wrong choices and incur on ourselves unpleasant consequences, God shows His magnanimity and graciousness through merciful intervention to save His straying children. This is what Jesus taught His disciples in the Gospel passage this weekend.

The parable in the Gospel is often referred to as the “Parable of the Prodigal Son.” It should be called the Parable of the Prodigal Father since it was the father who was wastefully extravagant with love and mercy, recklessly spending everything, including his honor, for his child who treated him badly.

According to Jesus, the Prodigal Father, who represents God the Father, gave portion of his wealth to his wayward youngest son who demanded for his share of his Father’s inheritance. He had no right to ask and his request meant he wished his Father dead, yet the Father in love gave him what he wanted. He took his unmerited inheritance and spent it recklessly on life of debauchery. Soon, extreme poverty visited him as consequence of his profligate living and he could find no job other than looking after filthy pigs (unclean taboo animals to his presumably Jewish religion) and even desired to feed from the filthy pig feed but was not afforded even that. Faced with grim reality, he did critical evaluation of his situation and prospects and decided to return in humility to his father.

His father, who had been expectantly waiting for his return, saw him from afar, recognized him in spite of his now malnourished and presumably unkempt frame, was moved with compassion and ran to him. Yes, the father, and not the son, ran to the repentant son. The father was the one who was not treated fairly in this relationship, yet he ran to his hitherto recalcitrant son, embraced and kissed him. The returnee son had not fully reeled out his rehearsed repentance statement when his prodigal father ordered full restoration of all the rights and privileges he had relinquished in his son’s ill-advised sensual pursuit.

God is extravagant in His distribution of blessings and graces upon His children. Sometimes, we forgo life of true peace and right relationship with our loving Father and go in search of the corporeal things and flee ting pleasure. The consequence of such bad choice is very predictable, we soon realize how wrong we are. Those who are wise cooperate with Divine grace to return to the right relationship with God through repentance and reconciliation. When this happens, we often think that we initiated our own repentance. By no means. The loving Father simply never left us, but kept prompting us and “watching the road” to sight us from afar even before we responded to His initiative, and when we do return, He effects the total restoration of all we lost to recalcitrance in addition to the forgiveness He graciously bestows.

Let us pray during this season of Lent that the deceptive lure of material things and sensual pleasure will never separate us from God’s love. May we respond in humility to God’s invitation and so return to our loving Father in whom He alone we find true peace for our souls.

Please be kind and may God bless you.

Fr. Manasseh