The Freedom In Which We Live
Fr. Ben Rosado
Today as we celebrate the Fourth of July, we find ourselves to be blessed. This holiday is an important one for Americans, in which we remember the freedom that we have been given. This is a religious freedom and one that affords us many other rights. America has itself been rightfully called "The Land of the Free," and many people long to come to live here among us. Each year we celebrate our Independence Day with parades, fireworks, and parties, hopefully recalling and giving thanks for the gift of freedom that we enjoy.
As Christians, we should see in this freedom a symbol of the greater freedom we have in Christ. The redemption that Jesus won for us is principally an act of setting us free. Scripture tells us that "For freedom, Christ set us free" Galatians 5:1. Jesus has come into our world and into our lives that we might live in the great freedom that belongs to the children of God.
This freedom in Christ is experienced in several ways. First of all, it is a freedom from sin. The sins that we carry can weigh heavily upon us. They bind us, limiting our ability to do good, even holding us hostage at times through their addictive and compulsive nature. But when our Lord delivers us from our sins, we have freedom of heart and a new strength to avoid past vices and even attain virtue. When we are washed in the blood of Jesus, we are made clean and set free from sin's rule over us.
Not only does Jesus free us from sin, but even frees us from death itself. By dying he destroyed our death and by rising he restored our life. Because of him, we need no longer fear death, for it has lost its power over us. Although we will physically experience death when our time comes, it is but the doorway to eternal life for us, just as it was for our Lord. Because we are united to Jesus, we are now set from from eternal death and from the fears associated with it. In fact, for the Christian, death can be something we even look forward to, since through it we will enter the paradise of Heaven.
And thirdly, we have been set free from ignorance. Through original sin, our intellects had been darkened. We no longer perceived God or his truths clearly. We wandered as those who walked in darkness. But when Jesus came into our lives, he gave us gifts to know him and to receive his revelation. He filled us with his Holy Spirit which gave us a new clarity of mind. This is itself a great freedom. We can now know who we are called to be and who God is to us. We can see clearly the path that we are on, the path that leads to salvation.
Our response to these truths should be to make use of the freedom Christ has won for us. For example, we will experience his freeing us from sin when we ask for his forgiveness. For our venial sins, this can happen simply by being sorry for sin and praying the act of contrition. For more serious sins, we should approach the sacrament of reconciliation. To make use of his freeing us from death, we should live as those people awaiting the kingdom of Heaven. We are to live in hope of that blessed day when we will pass from this world to the next. And to take advantage of his freeing us from our ignorance, let us study and learn about God and his ways. We have access to so many good Bible studies, programs of catechesis, Catholic videos, books, and articles, and so can feed our minds with the truth of God. When we make use of all these resources, we show Jesus how much we appreciate the freedom he has made possible for us by his life, death, and resurrection.
Brothers and sisters, as we celebrate the freedom we experience as Americans today, let us lift up our minds to God. Let us not only thank him for the freedoms we enjoy as citizens of this great country, but let us thank God even more for the freedoms we have as citizens of Heaven. These freedoms from sin, death, and ignorance are the greatest gifts of all, and we will do well to rejoice over them with processions, expressions of joy, and liturgies that rival any parade, fireworks, or party here on earth.
REFLECTION FOR TODAY
July 26, 2021
By Fr. 5ndrew Ibegbulem, OSA
THE TRANSFORMING POWER OF THE WORD OF GOD
He spoke to them another parable. "The Kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened." Matt. 13:33
Jesus never stops speaking to the people in parables. After talking about the parable of the mustard seed, He speaks again of the transforming effect of yeast. Yeast is powerful and important item in baking. Though it often accounts for only about 1% of a loaf of bread, it causes the loaf to more than double in size. The yeast has the amazing effect of turning the dough soft and flexible as it rises. Without yeast, the dough would remain stiff and much smaller in size. The dough would not become the bread it was meant to be.
A lot of Church Fathers has given some interpretations to our gospel reference today. Some say that the three measures of flour represent the spirit, soul and body into which the Gospel is inserted. Others say the three measures of flour represent either three different kinds of persons or three levels of fruitfulness in our lives.
The yeast is understood by some as the message of the Gospel in the Scriptures and by others as charity that must permeate our lives and the world. The parables of Jesus, and all his teaching offer us many levels of understanding and meaning that are all correct and consistent with each other. One of the most important questions to ponder is this: What does God want to say to you through this parable?
If you consider yourself to be the three measures of flour, and the yeast to be God, His holy Word and His gentle but clear Voice speaking to you, in what concrete ways do you see your life rising as a direct result? How do you see yourself becoming that which you are intended to be because of God entering your life? And do you see the effect as one that is truly transforming and even exponential?
The Word of God may have little to no effect on our lives, this is because we do not allow God to do His transforming work. A lump of dough left to itself remain just a dough. But when the yeast is added to it, a marvelous change take place. The dough rises into rich wholesome bread, a staple of life. Just as a dough must be kneaded to make the leaven take effect so must we endure some pummeling and stretching by the Holy Spirit if our way of thinking and acting are to be changed and renewed.
Sometimes we can also become impatient with the workings of God. If we are impatient with God's grace, then it may be like taking the dough and kneading it over and over before it even has a chance to work. The lesson from this parable is that God's kingdom will grow as we allow His word to take deep root in our hearts and minds.
Reflect, today, upon this short but powerful parable. See yourself as that dough and see God and His action in your life as the yeast. As you sit with that image in a prayerful way, let God reveal how He wants to work in you and how He wants to transform you. Pray for patience. Trust that if you receive His transforming Word into your soul, then He will do what He wants to do. And trust that if this happens, you will indeed become the person God wants you to become.
Lord, You desire to enter deeply into my life and to permeate all that I am. You desire to change me, little by little, making me into the person You want me to become. Please help me to be attentive to all that You desire to do in me and to patiently await the transformation that You have already begun. Jesus, I trust in You.
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Saint of the Day
As a lay organization, the mission of the Charismatic Renewal is:
- To help all people come to know the love of God in their lives as demonstrated through our Lord, Jesus Christ.
- To help our brothers and sisters respond to God's love by loving God in return through a commitment to serve Christ and His Church.
- To assist them to listen and follow the movement of the Holy Spirit at work in their lives.
- To help our brothers and sisters recognize the ministry that God has called them to, and accept the gifts that God desires to bestow upon them for His work in our Church and in our world.
- To lead them to a New Life offered to us by the Holy Spirit.