Freedom of choice is one of the most important parts of a well-lived and true faith in God. I have often heard it argued that our Lady and St. Joseph, even St. John the Baptist didn’t have true freedom of faith, but that never sat very well with me. Even though Mary was given a unique and special grace from conception (Immaculate Conception) so God knew she wouldn’t fall in sin; Mary had the freedom to choose to sin or not to sin. Anything less than total freedom makes a human being a robot, controlled in action by God. That’s not a loving action (if God were to choose to control us in this way). As heart-breaking as it is that some, many even will choose to ignore or turn away from God; God can’t take away freedom for that would not be true love. Today’s Gospel is one that allows to pause and reflect upon the gift of love. Mary loves Jesus and anoints His feet. She is faulted for this by Judas Iscariot who believes she should serve & give to the poor instead. His love is false because as is pointed out, he neither cares for the poor or the Lord. He is exercising freedom for himself and not for others. Love does not motivate him in his actions. What motivates us? Is it love? Is it a genuine love for God and for others? Even if it’s not, we can turn to the Lord and ask that He increase our faith and help us to respond more generously to that gift. Mary’s faith and love in the Lord grew. It grew even deeper when the Lord in His loving action raised her brother Lazarus from the dead. If we look around us, and we begin to see God’s presence in our daily actions and events, we will begin to see where the Lord is acting in a loving way in our lives. As a priest I’ve experienced it with others (and also myself) even in the greatest challenges and difficulties of people’s lives. It occurred to me when I began to see the Lord’s loving action in my life, both in the wonderful things and blessings of my life and any given day but also in the hardships, struggles, painful experiences too; I also began to understand freedom in a greater way. The Lord our God was free to act when He created us and all things, and did so completely in love; what I can do in return is freely love the Lord and everyone else or at least keep trying for the rest of my life.