Monday, July 1, 2013

HOMILY 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle C June 30, 2013

          Soon we will be celebrating Independence Day, July 4.  In addition to fireworks and patriotic music, we will hear a lot of talk about freedom.  We also hear from St. Paul in our second reading today about freedom.  The United States Bishops have declared this time a second Fortnight of Freedom.  So let’s talk about freedom.
          St Paul’s understanding of freedom, and the freedom that we celebrate on July 4, have much in common but they are not exactly the same.  And it is important to understand the difference.
          The freedom we will celebrate on Independence Day is primarily that: independence from some other controlling power.  Freedom is defined in a negative way as “freedom from”.   In this case freedom from the rule of the British monarch.  Freedom from oppression and constraint is a very good thing, and is something to celebrate.
          But for St. Paul freedom is not so much about freedom from some restraint as it is the freedom to be able to do something important and necessary, that is, the freedom to live as children of God.
          We were created by God in a certain way, according to a certain plan, with a specific goal and purpose.  To not live in this way is to fundamentally frustrate our deepest nature and being.  It is to live falsely.  It is to live in slavery.  Only by living in accord with our fundamental nature can we become who we were created to be, most truly be ourselves, and so truly be free.
          The “freedom” so called to go against who we are called to be, the “freedom” so called to do wrong, the “freedom” so called to sin, and so violate our deepest nature and yearning, is to St Paul no freedom at all.  Rather it is slavery. 
          For example:  In the Gospel today the Apostles James and John want to use their freedom as Apostles to call down fire from heaven to punish those who disagree with them.  James and John would be at home in the current US Congress.  
          But Jesus does not permit it.  It is a misuse of freedom.  Jesus instead rebukes James and John, “and they journeyed to another village.”
        To be truly free means to have the ability to live as we were created to live: as children of God, in peace, joy, patience, and above all in love.  Only living in this way are we truly who we are and so truly free.  St Paul tells us today:  For freedom Christ set us free;   so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.
For you were called for freedom, brothers and sisters.
          Sisters and brothers, Christ set us free from the slavery of sin, from the slavery of doing what demeans us, from what harms us and our brothers and sisters, from what takes us away from the source of all life, all good, all beauty, all love, from God. 
          In Christ we are set free and empowered to live lives that are dignified, authentic, worthwhile, that have meaning and purpose, that are loving.  That is to be truly free.  This is Freedom for the fullness of life.  

For freedom Christ set us free;
so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.
For you were called for freedom, brothers and sisters.   AMEN.

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