We also know that, due to original sin, this powerful attraction to the good is diminished by an impulse toward evil. Baptism cleanses us from this sin, but not from its effects. We remain vulnerable to sin and temptation.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that, “Sin sets itself against God’s love for us and turns our hearts away from it. Like the first sin, it is disobedience, a revolt against God through the will to become ‘like gods,’ knowing and determining good and evil. Sin is thus ‘love of oneself even to contempt of God.’ In this proud self-exaltation, sin is diametrically opposed to the obedience of Jesus, which achieves our salvation.” (CCC. 1850).
This quote tells us that the root of all sin is pride.
Pride distorts human freedom because it convinces us that we are free to choose as we wish without God. True freedom is found, not in simply making choices according to our own will, but in making decisions that are in harmony with God’s plan. Cooperating with God brings us the greatest happiness and peace.
Next week we enter a most sacred time as Christians focus on the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Holy Week begins with the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. It ends with the celebration of his resurrection on Easter.
In between, on Holy Thursday and Good Friday, we contemplate the suffering and death of Jesus.
Jesus freely chose to suffer and die for us in order that we may be saved. The scriptures tell us that this decision was not easy for Jesus, and it brought him great anguish. Nowhere is this more evident, than in his prayer to his father in the Garden of Gethsemane.
“Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’ He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and agitated. Then he said to them, ‘I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me.’ And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.’” (Matthew 26:36-39)
Jesus loved life, and this passage reminds us that he did not want to suffer and die. He accepted his father’s will out of obedience, “yet not what I want but what you want.” His love for his father, and each one of us, was even greater than his love of life
Personal choice should be greatly valued because we need to be free to make our own decisions. This, however, should not be the only measure for making a good decision. As Christians, we also need to consider God’s plan for us. This is especially true regarding some of the great moral issues facing our society today. It is not simply about personal choice.
One of the foundational principles of the spiritual life is to follow the will of God. True freedom is experienced not only in making a choice. It is ultimately found in faithfully doing what God wants rather than what we want.
This is not easy; however, it can be done with great love. Jesus shows us the way.