|Free as a Bird|
In the second reading from the Sunday liturgy, we are encouraged by St. Paul's
letter to the Galatians to consider the matter of freedom. Perhaps these thoughts
of the great "apostle,' offer us food for thought as we in the USA are preparing
to celebrate our our major "freedom holiday."
Paul's letter was sent to heal some divisions that had begun to occur in the "churches"
that this ardent preacher of the Word and "founder" of churches along his peripetetic
roadways. In Galatia there seem to have risen some "newer" churches that opposed
what Paul had preached on his first visit. Somd people where leaving the teaching of
of Paul. This was in the early years of the Church as founded by Jesus Christ. All
of this seem to have taken place in the first century, between the years 40 and the early
50s. So it is not surprising that Paul would address the matter of freedom.
What is true freedom for this "apostle"? So, simply stated Paul perceived freedom
as that personal characteristic when a person is able to demonstrate care for a
neighbor. When that person looks upon another person who is in need as a brother or
sister, there is the fulfillment of the onlooker's needs. True freedom becomes a reality
when an onlooker sees that person in need truly as his/her sister or brother.
Likewise, freedom is only genuine when a person does not live a life of unimpeded
concern for oneself. To be free is to be able to handle "things of the world" without
letting them control one's life: money, property, status, success, etc..
What we can see in freedom is a genuine irony. A truly free man or woman lives
a life that is passionately committed to caring and sharing, to a world of truth and,
ultimately, to a life with inner peace and a genuine sense of personal security.
So, we can see in today's readings a portrayal of this genuine freedom in the lives
of Jesus and Elisha and St. Paul. Our contemporary times have offered us examples
in the freedoms of Mother Teresa, Gandi, St John Neumann, Sr. Katherine Drexel,
Popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis..