“Freedom exists for the sake of love” -St. John Paul II
If you go to an ice cream shop you will soon find yourself struggling to decide between the 40 different flavors in front of you, the server will eventually ask “what will it be?” He is not asking “what do you think?” He is not asking you to explain the options you are considering. He wants to know what you have decided so that he could serve you a scope. . . or two 🙂 If there is no choice, there is no ice cream.
God’s purpose in creating us with a will to choose was solely for the purpose of giving us the capacity to freely choose perfect love. And we come to recognize that as our ultimate Good. We do this through reason enlightened by the Spirit. Thus, we become better disposed to choose the Good.
If it were not for the sake of love, for instance, who would freely choose to sacrifice their own life for the life of their neighbor? An act of love such as this is independent of any human capacity to give oneself entirely for another. And one of the primary fruits of this response to love is Joy. And supernatural joy is not an emotion; it does not lend itself to any given personality type, this I would categorize as natural joy. Supernatural joy is a grace that remains always within us regardless of emotional responses, we just have to choose to enter into it.
For instance, I can choose not to give a smile to a friend if I decide at the moment that I am not in the mood to try. My feelings, emotions, and attitude can very easily dominate the gift that I am capable of imparting to another because I can reason that happiness does not come easily that day.
The desire to give of oneself and the willingness to do it freely is rooted in love. It is a genuine outpouring of love that is not necessarily rooted in the other person but a love that is rooted in Jesus who dwells deep within yourself AND within the other person. That is why natural love and natural joy do not thrive in the deepest of capacities, they are tied down to broken humanity who will never be able to fully give of itself outside of communion with the supernatural gift of grace. And Grace, simply put, is a life in Christ.
Jesus cannot be absent as much as we try to run away from Him. He will always be there, ever present with his Spirit. But like the server in the ice cream shop, he will wait patiently until we have made our choice. He will not choose to be in a loving relationship with us apart from our free response.
We were made to reflect God, and as we were made in his image so too were we made in his likeness and our participation in this divine mystery is the reason we could never be incapable of happiness. But we CAN be unwilling to enter into it.
That is why our will carries so much influence and has become the ultimate crown of glory in becoming a self gift. If we can united our will to his, we have conquered perfect love because with our will we can surrender or rebel, we can praise or we can curse. With our will we are able to love and we are able to hate.
As we bask in the light of the Resurrection this Easter Season, we continue to ponder that perfect gift of Jesus on the cross. Being born into humanity he took on our human flesh and became one with us by embracing our human faculties. Who else could we look too for guidance in human flourishing if not him who laid down his life for us. Jesus’ single sacrificial act required Him to conquer and control every human act of free will, every desire for self preservation, and every feeling and emotion he felt during the sacred moment of suffering he experienced at Gethsemane. He gave it all to the Father, “not my will but yours be done. . .”
How do we determine if we have truly become a self-gift ?
If our will is able to conform to the Will of its creator. If we are WILLING to sacrifice our passions, desires, and understanding to the mystery of God’s design then we have adorned and prepared our life for the work of perfect love. We have become wholly disposed heart, soul, and body to the freedom of love which transforms our life into a perfect gift of self.
The delightful shop of this world displays many flavors by which we can enjoy the sweetness of life, and Jesus stands before us waiting to serve the sweetest of them all, his only question? “what will it be?”