June 30, 2019: The Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - PASTOR’S CORNER
For you were called for freedom, brothers and sisters. But do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; rather, serve one another through love. For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement, namely: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you go on biting and devouring one another, beware that you are not consumed by one another.
In this weekends’ second reading to the Galatians, St. Paul reminds us that one of the greatest gifts that we’ve been given is freedom. Freedom is a divine attribute and in creating humanity in His image and likeness, God has shared with us this freedom. Often, we think that freedom is the ability to do and choose what we want. To be free is to be free from someone telling us what to do. Yet, freedom is more than just being free from compulsion. To be free is to be able to connect and relate to something or someone. Made in God’s image, our freedom is not simply freedom from coercion but a freedom for a purpose.
St. Paul develops the nature of this “freedom for” when summarizes the purpose of the law. The law is meant to free us by giving us the direction by which we are formed in how to love our neighbor as our self. This reason God gave us the gift of freedom is so that we can be free to love. Although the call to love is familiar to us as Christians, yet it is not easy. God calls us to love as He does, without condition, without counting the cost, without expecting appreciation or reward. This is challenging. Often even at our best, when we love someone, there is always a tinge of self-interest involved. Even when we love generously, we expect some recognition or gratitude. We love those who are deserving or who we have some other responsible. While this is laudable, the command to love our neighbor as God does, stretches us to see others as God sees them. When we can love those whom we do not like or who do not like us, when we can give to those who are indifferent to us or who will never show any appreciation, then we are coming closer to living in the freedom to love as God.
This coming Thursday we celebrate Independence Day. The fireworks and festivities we enjoy are an expression of the political and constitutional freedoms upon which our Unites States under God have been founded. The foundation of our independence is not simply freedom from coercion but the freedom to love your neighbor as yourself. This week, challenge yourself to love as God loves. At the beginning of the day, ask yourself: “Who do I find difficult to love?” “Who is hostile or indifferent to me?” Then asking for God’s strength, exercise your freedom to love by words and deeds of generosity, kindness and encouragement. For when we love as God loves, then we are truly free!