Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, June 26
Living Our Life as Christ Would Have Us Live It – Allowing Our Faith to Express Itself Through the Virtues of Humility and Love – Is Recognizing and Embracing the Freedom Which Christ Offers to Each One of Us.
We read from Saint Paul’s Letter to the Galatians, “For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.”
Freedom – a concept which is elusive for many throughout the world, for there are many governments and cultures which unfairly restrict how people live their lives or express their beliefs. Religious freedom is even becoming a matter of serious concern for Christians, especially Catholics, in the United States, especially those who embrace and uphold the moral teachings of Jesus Christ and God’s Truth taught through the Magisterium of His Bride, the Church.
But no matter what political structure may attempt to influence or restrict what we say or do, it is our belief in a loving and merciful God and our exercise of these beliefs which ultimately form the faith which is expressed in the character of who we are as a Christian people.
It is in the recognition that no matter what trials or difficulties we may experience in life, it is our belief that God truly knows and understands the human condition, and it is His very Presence which gives us hope. And it is in this hope where we realize and find our true freedom – freedom from despair, freedom from hopelessness, and freedom to call God our Father and Christ our Brother.
Jesus once said, “If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
It is this Truth which opened the mind and the heart of Elisha, whom we read about in our First Reading today. Even though he did not fully understand the God who was calling him through the prophet Elijah, for God had not fully revealed Himself until the coming of our Savior, it was Elisha’s belief in the Eternal Truth which filled his heart with a desire to give up everything and follow the God of his fathers.
And it was this same Truth which impacted the life of Saul to such an extent that he chose to freely give up everything to follow the will of God, so that he, who would later change his name to Paul and who became known as the Apostle to the Gentiles, might give glory to God through Jesus Christ.
And it is the Gospels and Paul’s Letters which have guided many into a true and lasting discipleship, into recognizing what true freedom in Jesus Christ really means to each of us as His followers. For the concept of freedom for a true follower of Christ goes much deeper than having the right to vote or the right to free speech or the right to practice our faith.
The Truth which Christ brought us that sets us free is the knowledge that God’s Love for each one of us is beyond human understanding or description, and it is this Love which has freed us from the bondage of sin and our slavery to the flesh.
And it is Paul who tells us in his Letter to the Galatians, “For freedom Christ set us free.” He finishes his sentence by saying, “…so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery. For you were called for freedom…But do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; rather, serve one another through love.”
I am sure that we are all very familiar with the Scripture verse – “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”
How often have we taken the time to truly wrap our arms around the idea that God sacrificed His Only Son out of Infinite and Eternal Love, so that you and I might be free from sin, free from Satan’s unholy grasp upon us, so that we may be offered the most wondrous gift of becoming co-heirs with Christ in Heaven?
Without this ultimate Sacrifice, we would not be enjoying the faith we profess today! Without this definitive and decisive surrender of Christ upon His Cross, and His victory over death, we would not have received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost – the Church would never have been formed, there would be no Sacraments and no Mass!
Most importantly, we would not be nourished and strengthened with the Eucharist – which is the Glorified and Risen Christ Himself, the very Source and Summit of our life of faith!
It is through the victory of Christ, and God’s unfathomable Love for each of us, that we are no longer slaves to sin. We are no longer filled with a hopelessness which binds us to Satan.
We have the joy and the freedom to respond to Christ’s call to each of us when He says, “Follow me.” For we can respond as we hear in today’s Gospel, “I will follow you wherever you go.”
It is in following Christ that we give Him our hearts, so that He may rest His head upon the love which we hold in our hearts and truly live out in our daily lives for Him. It is in following Christ that we freely choose righteousness over wickedness, holiness over sin. It is in our discipleship that Jesus has set us free to love and serve each other selflessly, following the example which He set for each of us.
When we look at the world in which we live today, how many of His children continuously offend His Love by all the abominations committed in the name of religion, greed, selfishness and ego? It is no wonder we hear our Lord saying in today’s Gospel, “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.”
And Paul tells us that if we walk through life wearing blinders, if we “go on biting and devouring one another”, as he puts it in today’s Second Reading, then we need to be aware that we will be “consumed by one another.”
It is only when we recognize that, in Christ and through Christ, we have our true freedom – we are then truly set free. For in no other Name, and in no other way, is this freedom possible!
It is only when we open our hearts and respond to Christ’s call to each of us, in whatever form that call may take – whether we be called to serve the Body of Christ as one of His ministers or religious, or whether we are called to serve the Body of Christ as husbands or wives or mothers or fathers –
– whatever form His call may take, He will give us the grace to freely respond to that call with a selfless love and an enduring faith.
For it is only in Christ that we have such freedom, and we are asked, in this freedom, to “…serve one another through love.” In this freedom, which God offers us, we are asked to set aside all the others gods which separate us from His Love, and we are asked to recognize those elements within our own lives which can cause division between the Spirit and the flesh.
There are material things which we need in this life to be able to provide for our family and loved ones. God knows this and respects this. But when our needs become corrupted, they then become our gods and we become a slave to sin and the spiritual darkness which accompanies sin.
It is this about which Paul is warning us. It is this for which our Lord rebukes us. Elisha new the difference, and he did not have Christ to teach him. We do have Christ and we have His Church, so our decisions should be easier.
Living our life as Christ would have us live it, allowing our faith to express itself through the virtues of humility and love – is truly recognizing and embracing the freedom which Christ offers to each one of us.
It is in the words of our psalmist today which expresses this freedom which our Lord gives to you and me, “You are my inheritance, O Lord…You will show me the path to life, fullness of joys in your presence, the delights at your right hand forever.”
May His delights truly be ours forever!
May God bless you, God love you, and may God always keep you. †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)
- “If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31b-32)
- “… [Elisha] left and followed Elijah to serve him.” (1 Kings 19:21c)
- “For you were called for freedom, brothers. But do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; rather, serve one another through love.” (Galatians 5:13)
- “For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” (John 18:37cd)
- “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
- “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62)
- “…if you go on biting and devouring one another, beware that you are not consumed by one another.” (Galatians 5:15)
- “I say, then: live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16)
- “You are my inheritance, O Lord…You will show me the path to life, abounding joy in your presence, the delights at your right hand forever.” (cf. Psalm 16:5a, 11)
Prayer for the Day
“Precious Blood and Living Word of God,
You are my eternal salvation.
Lost in sin, You liberated me.
“You lifted me from perdition and gave me life.
Treasuring my feeble soul,
You excused my constant frailties.
“Forever, I am indebted to You.
Your cost can never be repaid,
For You bought my freedom with Your Blood.
“I will always seek You out my Lord;Anonymous
You are my beloved Deliverer!
You are the true Lamb of God and my Eternal Savior!”