The other day my 11 year old daughter Elizabeth asked me why God allows abortions to take place. I responded by explaining the concept of “free will” to her. I told her that God doesn’t cause evil things to happen, but he allows people to make their own choices. Unfortunately, those choices sometimes involve doing “the wrong thing”.
We are never going to figure out all of God’s motives and we shouldn’t go crazy trying. After all, He’s God and we’re not. The prophet Isaiah tells us very clearly that God doesn’t think like us (Is 55:8-9). We do know, however, that God can bring good out of evil. The greatest example of this can be found in the act that brought about the salvation of mankind. I can’t think of too many things worse than the crucifixion of the Son of God, but because of this act, it is possible for us to get to Heaven!
While we shouldn’t worry too much about why God permits bad things to happen, we should be concerned about the choices that we make. In the first reading from today’s Mass (Dt 30:15-20), Moses tells the Israelites that they must choose between “life and prosperity” or “death and doom”. He explains that if they obey the commandments they will “live”, but if they “turn away and serve other gods” they will perish. It doesn’t get much clearer than that!
Every day, you and I have many chances to do good or evil. Often it’s not that clear cut and involves “gray areas”. For example, it’s a lot easier to watch TV than say some extra prayers or help out your spouse around the house. It’s also very easy to justify ignoring a shut-in or an elderly parent because you’re too tired. It’s easy to get mad at someone because they’re being unreasonable. Don’t get me wrong; there are times when you really need to give your body a rest. There are also times where you need to charitably, but firmly, stand up for yourself. My point is that we just need to prayerfully consider what we should do in these situations.
Lent is the perfect time to take a look at our lives. Do we sometimes choose “death and doom” when we could have chosen “life and prosperity”? If you’re anything like me, I suspect that the answer is “yes”. Rather than feel bad about this realization, we should be thankful that the Church gives us this season to reflect on our behavior. No matter how badly we fall, we can obtain God’s forgiveness through the wonderful sacrament of Confession. We should be thankful for each new day, as it gives us another chance to “choose life” and follow the commandments. God doesn’t expect us to be perfect, but He does expect us to try. Always remember that He’s right there to help us, but sometimes He waits for us to ask!