Freedom Comes At A Cost

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Fr. Jim homily

5 minute read


Is 66:10-14c; Ps. 66; Gal. 6:14-18; Lk. 10:1-12, 17-20

(Audio recorded live, 3 July 2022)

In today’s Psalm, we heard: “Come and see the works of God, his tremendous deeds among the children of Adam.” On this fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, as Americans prepare to celebrate Independence Day, we are invited to come and see the works of God. One of the greatest gifts God gave us is freewill. It is one of the ways in which we can say that we are like God, by having a share in God’s own freedom. But, our freedom comes at a cost. In the Garden of Eden, God set a limit to Adam’s freedom, saying he could not eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, therefore, breaking that commandment meant that there would be consequences. Adam’s sin caused a rupture, not just between God and man, but also between one another. We experience this rupture daily as the effects of Original Sin continue to reverberate even to today. So, freedom comes at a cost.

Our Psalm recounts the marvelous deeds God did in setting the Israelites free from slavery in Egypt, saying, “He has changed the sea into dry land,” and how God ushered them into the Promise Land, saying, “through the river they passed on foot.” These two lines are the bookends of the Israelite’s 40 year sojourn in the desert: The beginning of their wandering in the wilderness, and their triumphant entry into the Promise Land. The prophet Isaiah speaks of the significance of Jerusalem, the Holy City. Jerusalem was the center of worship for the people, it was the center of trade and commerce. Everything in the known world was funneled through Jerusalem—from the Silk Road north of Assyria down to the Bread Basket of Egypt in the South and beyond. It would seem the whole world was being nourished by Jerusalem, as a mother cares for her children.

The prosperity that came to Jerusalem was attributed to God’s presence in the Holy Temple, just as it was God’s presence that led the Israelites in the wilderness and brought them to the land. The Lord remained with them because they remained with the Lord. This was an exercise of freewill. But, what happens when human freedom starts to choose something other than God? What happens when men and women begin to worship other gods? What happens when the people become obsessed with false idols such as money or fortune tellers or kings or queens? The Bible is very clear about what happens: They fall out of favor with God because they did evil in the sight of the Lord, and they have to deal with the consequences of their actions.

Idolatry, lust, greed, anger, hatred, and the like, are all temptations we face on account of Sin and giving in to evil has consequences. Yet, when our worship is for the One True God, our actions are ordered to the good, and most especially for the good of others. The definition of love is to will what is best for others. It was out of love that God created each of us; it was out of love that we were given a share in God’s own freedom; and it is out of love that we gather here, to offer thanksgiving to God. And while God has no need of our thanks or praise, it is nevertheless an acceptable sacrifice to the Lord. Think of the gifts little children give their mothers: a little Dandelion or Buttercup. The mother has no need of the flower, but does she not cherish it because of who gave it to her? So it is with the thanksgiving and praise we give to Almighty God.

There are many other gifts we can offer God, and Jesus teaches his disciples the importance of being missionaries. St. Paul reminds the Romans that faith comes through hearing (Rm. 10:17). In today’s Gospel, Jesus commissions seventy-two disciples and sends them out in pairs to proclaim the Kingdom of God. They are to find a peaceful household, eat and drink what is offered to them, cure the sick, and say to them, “The kingdom of God is at hand for you.” And to those who do not receive them, their message is basically the same: “The kingdom of God is at hand.” They are instructed to share this message no matter how it is received.

So, what about us? Have we been missionaries for Jesus? Have we given the gift of sharing the Gospel with others? Certainly Jesus did not intend to send only seventy-two disciples. If that were the case, we might not have ever heard the words of salvation. Yet, those who heard the message spread it abroad, like the Apostles, like St. Paul who bore the marks of Christ from being scourged and beaten and stoned. The kingdom of God is at hand. Freedom comes at a cost, whether the enduring witness of the early Christian martyrs, or the shedding of blood during the American Revolution and every other battle since.

So, no matter how difficult it may seem, or how shaken our confidence we may be, we should always take courage that the kingdom of God is at hand, and that we are all called to witness to that reality with the freedom we enjoy as people living in America. May the communion we freely share today help us to share the Gospel with others so they may enjoy the true freedom of God.

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