Demands of Freedom

Reflection for the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time by Sr. Marie Lucey

This reflection was originally posted in our June 20th newsletter

ttronslien-8953In this week’s Gospel, Jesus instructs those with good intentions but who find excuses not to follow him just yet: “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.” As we reflect on our own tendencies to put off a good we intend to do, we might also apply the lessons in these scripture readings to our country as we prepare to celebrate the 241st birthday of the nation, Independence Day. On July 4th, with flag waving, parades, and picnics, we hold up the nation’s basic treasured value-freedom. How do we define freedom? Do we equate it with independence, or, as Christians, do we see freedom as Paul describes it in his letter to the Galatians: “Brothers and sisters: For freedom God set us free… But do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; rather, serve one another through love.”

Today, independence can be reduced to individualism, an over- emphasis on what I think is good for me, and not on the common good. Some people claim that the First Amendment gives them the right to use hate language to disparage others. Some use the Second Amendment to justify what has become a flood of guns in our country with daily reports of lives ended by gun violence. These assertions are a far cry from serving one another through love.

Without denying the blessings of living in this country, we might reflect on its history through the double lens of fact and the Christian meaning of freedom. If we read further than the familiar first lines of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, we realize that freedom was not originally intended for everyone. Excluded are slaves (seen as property), Native Americans (seen as savages), and women (seen as “the weaker sex”). Freedom was for white, land-holding men. After 241 years of struggle and sacrifice, we have made progress in fulfilling the vision of freedom with “liberty and justice for all,” but we have not yet arrived.

Recent racist events gave rise to the “Black Lives Matter” movement. Islamophobia, calls for building border walls, the recent worst mass killing in our history, targeting the LGBT community, violation of American Indian sacred lands-all are evidence of the misuse of freedom that Paul warned about. How different our country will be if we “serve one another through love,” not settling for progress that has been made, but moving forward together, keeping our hands on the plow. May we realize that our future depends not on independence, but on interdependence, on building relationships of love and service.

Sr. Marie Lucey
FAN Director of Advocacy and Member Relations

Published in: on June 21, 2016 at 8:57 am  Leave a Comment  

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