20 January, Thursday – The gift of free will

20 Jan – Memorial for St. Fabian, pope and martyr; Memorial for St. Sebastian, martyr

Pope St. Fabian (d. 250) was a layman and a farmer. He came into Rome on a day when a new pope was to be elected. A dove flew in and settled on his head. The gathered clergy and laity took this as a sign that Fabian had been anointed, and he was chosen Pope by acclamation.

He sent St. Dionysius and other missionaries to Gaul, and condemned the heresies of Privatus. He was martyred for his faith in the persecutions of Decius.

St. Sebastian (d. 288) was the son of a wealthy Roman family. He was educated in Milan and became an officer of the Imperial Roman army, and captain of the guard. He was a favourite of Diocletian. During Diocletian’s persecution of the Christians, Sebastian visited them in prison, bringing supplies and comfort. He was reported to have healed the wife of a brother soldier by making the Sign of the Cross over her. He converted soldiers and a governor.

He was charged as a Christian, tied to a tree, shot with arrows, and was left for dead. He survived, recovered, and returned to preach to Diocletian. The emperor then had him beaten to death.

During the 14th century, the random nature of infection with the Black Death caused people to liken the plague to their villages being shot by an army of nature’s archers. In desperation, they prayed for the intercession of a saint associated with archers, and St. Sebastian became associated with the plague.

  • Patron Saint Index

1 Sam 18:6-9,19:1-7
Mk 3:7-12

And Saul turned a jealous eye on David from that day forward.

David, Goliath and Saul. Three equally powerful and different personalities. Three people that I can’t relate to — or can I?

How many times have I been David? How many times have I, or my crowd, been Goliath? And how many times have I been Saul?

We get to choose, don’t we? Whether to be David or Goliath or Saul. As a child, it seems a simple black and white choice; but as we grow up, we start to put more validity (pride) into our own thoughts and push the thoughts of God aside. Thus the simple black and white turns into a justification of grey, does it not? And we begin to see more and join in more and more battles. 

We sometimes battle like Goliath when we are bigger, or part of a bigger group. We surmise that we have more power because we believe ourselves (true or not) to be bigger, smarter, more skilled, more deserving or the proverbial more ‘right’ than our opposing ‘enemy’.

We sometimes battle like Saul. We surmise that we are (were) so in-tune, so connected with God and favoured by God, that what we do is righteous so that even our sins aren’t sins. Even evil thoughts and actions are acceptable because of our past relationship with God.  

We sometimes battle like David. We either are literally at the end with nothing left and we fall on our knees, prostrate ourselves and leave it all to God. Or, we are so in love with God that we live every moment on our knees and give God the reins of all that we do.

Why is it easier to be Goliath or Saul than it is to be David? The gift of free will.

God doesn’t demand anything of us, but He does invite us to give Him our will with every thought, word, step. The invitation to heaven rests on our free will. Will we imitate Goliath, Saul, David, or Jesus?

With that question I am immediately transposed to a garden. Matthew 26:39, Mark 14:36, Luke 22:42, John 17.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Gina Ulicny)

PrayerFather God, help us to use our free will to align ourselves only with You.

ThanksgivingLord God Almighty, we are grateful for the gift of free will, and yet that is precisely our Achilles heel. Thank you for all those you have put in our path to help us choose your will over ours. Thank you for this Catholic faith which guides us.  

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