“For freedom Christ set us free...” Second Reading (Gal 5:1). With the 4th of July fast approaching, we look at the question “What is Freedom?”
The readings this weekend demonstrate what freedom looks like.
Elisha is chosen to succeed Elijah the prophet, whereupon Elisha, who had been plowing a field, slaughtered his oxen, used the wooden plow for fuel to cook the meat, fed his people, kissed his mother and father good bye, and followed Elijah (cf 1 Kings 19:16-21). Elisha was not attached to his “things.” He willingly gave them up to follow the call of the Lord. His material “things” had no mastery over him. This is an image of complete and total freedom.
In the Gospel there is an urgency in the Lord’s invitation: “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). Why is that? Those who respond to the call of the Lord can’t be looking over their shoulders all of the time thinking “Look at what I gave up!” To do so is to be bound in the past, to be bound by “things,” or to be bound by a former way of life, a life of sin.
“For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.” (Gal 5:1) The plow and field are images of those bound by sin, while the leaving of them is an image of being set free, no longer under a yoke.
Thus the Church teaches us what freedom truly is and what it isn’t. St. John Paul II gives this definition: “Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought.”
“Freedom is the power, rooted in reason and will, to act or not to act, to do this or that, and so to perform deliberate actions on one's own responsibility. By free will one shapes one's own life. Human freedom is a force for growth and maturity in truth and goodness; it attains its perfection when directed toward God, our beatitude.” (CCC 1731)
“As long as freedom has not bound itself definitively to its ultimate good which is God, there is the possibility of choosing between good and evil, and thus of growing in perfec- tion or of failing and sinning...” (1732)
“The more one does what is good, the freer one becomes. There is no true freedom except in the service of what is good and just. The choice to disobey and do evil is an abuse of freedom and leads to ‘the slavery of sin.’” (1733)
“Every human person, created in the image of God, has the natural right to be recog- nized as a free and responsible being. All owe to each other this duty of respect. The right to the exercise of freedom, especially in moral and religious matters, is an inalien- able requirement of the dignity of the human person. This right must be recognized and protected by civil authority within the limits of the common good and public order. “(1738)
“By deviating from the moral law man violates his own freedom, becomes imprisoned within himself, disrupts neighborly fellowship, and rebels against divine truth.” (1740) ‘Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.’ (1741)
God bless you all, Father Robert Letona
Message from the past:
“Posterity! you will never know how much it cost the present generation to pre- serve your freedom! I hope you will make a good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven that I ever took half the pains to preserve it.” John Adams, Founding Father of the United States
PS: I will be away from July 1st - July 9th. For emergencies please contact one of the neighboring parishes.