A Battle of Wills

What distinguishes us from all other creatures? The fact that we have been created by our God with a free will. Our free will means we have the ability for self-determination.

Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time June 9-10, 2018
From Fr. Anthony Ligato

A Battle of Wills

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

What distinguishes us from all other creatures? The fact that we have been created by our God with a free will. Our free will means we have the ability for self-determination. The free will we have each received by our God who wants us to come to faith out of love can at time cause us to be in conflict with not only with God but also with ourselves. Each of the readings for this Sunday present how internal conflict with our own free wills can cause external conflict with God and with others. The battle of wills first begins with that internal struggle of knowing the right thing to do but not having a strong enough will to do it.

Take for example the First Reading from Genesis 3:9- 15, which is the telling of the fall of creation. In actuality it is the telling of how humanity in choosing its own flawed free will over God’s perfect will leads to sin. That choice of choosing our own flawed free will leads to sin and conflict not only with God but with others, again take for example how the Man blames the Woman and the Woman blames the Serpent. Both had a free will and both chose their flawed and sinful free wills over God’s perfect will. The Man and the Woman represent us all and the Serpent represents the temptation each of us struggle with in our lives. The Man and the Woman were the first to be invited by God to be disciples, but discipleship requires us to choose God’s perfect will over our own flawed and sinful free wills. We know how that invitation was responded to by the Man and Woman.

The Gospel from Mark 3:20-35 again extends an invitation to discipleship. In returning to his home town of Nazareth the opportunity for discipleship is offered to his extended relatives who ultimately refuse the invitation. “Again, the crowds gathered, making it impossible for them even to eat. When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him, for they said, He is out of his mind.” (Mark 3:20-21) Those extended relatives decline the invitation to become disciples and choose

their own flawed and sinful free wills over God’s perfect will. The next group to be invited to become disciples were the Scribes but they responded by saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul.” Again, another battle of the wills where in our autonomy we are actually not free but rather enslaved to sin.

It is Jesus’ Mother and his immediate family who respond to the invitation to discipleship uniting their own free wills with God’s perfect will. When Jesus is told that his Mother and other family members are outside waiting to see him, his response extends the invitation of discipleship to all humanity, which was God’s original intent from the first moment of creation. “Who are my mother and my brothers? And looking around at those seated in the circle he said, here are my mother and brothers, for whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3:35) Whenever we do God’s will we are members of God’s family and all members of God’s family are God’s disciples.

St. Paul reminds the Church in Corinth who are already disciples that to remain disciples that they must remain focused on uniting themselves to the will of the God who raised Christ from the dead. “Since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, I believed, therefore I spoke, we too believe and therefore we speak, knowing that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus.” (2 Corinthians 4:13 -5:1) For us to remain focused we have to unite our own flawed free will with God’s perfect will and then we can respond to the invitation of discipleship in the same way Jesus’ Mother and immediate family did, by saying yes.

Yours in Christ, Fr. Anthony

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