Today's first reading in the Catholic church is a challenge for me when I think about free will. The reading today is Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19. It begins with
The word of the LORD came to me, saying:
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I dedicated you,
a prophet to the nations I appointed you.
This challenges me to think about what it really means. Now, of course, I am not claiming to be like the prophet Jeremiah in any way, shape, or form in terms of the whatever God had intended for me. (At least not in terms of being a prophet. I do think that God cares about each of us equally and does not play favorites.)
In any case, if God knows a person before they are formed in the womb, when exactly is that? From one perspective it reminds me of philosophies (new age or otherwise) that suggest that the souls are waiting somewhere to come to Earth as life when an opportunity arises. Is that where God knows a person before they are formed? My question is more rhetorical than anything else as I realize that not everything ie meant to be read literally but it is nevertheless fun to consider.
Then it says that God dedicated Jeremiah and appointed him a prophet to the nations. This suggests that God had something in mind for Jeremiah. It also suggests that God may have something in mind for each of us.
But, to avoid a thought of complete predestination, the reading goes on to ask whether Jeremiah does certain things and reassures him that God will be there.
That, to me, emphasizes the free choice that Jeremiah had even though God had appointed hi a prophet. And that reflects then on the free choice we all, as humans, have. And it also makes me comfortable with what I think of as "God given gifts" and my ongoing spiritual question to figure out what those are and how I am "supposed" to be using them. I am not Mother Teresa, but I try to make the world a better place for those with whom I associate in little ways. I particularly focus on the question of "what was intended" in times of change. Looking ahead I can only hope that the choices I have made that will modify my career path are the right ones and that God will continue to reveal to me as I go along how I can use the gifts I was given and the opportunities that come my way to make life on earth one step closer to what God had hoped for a kingdom for all those who are around me.