Sunday, June 27, 2010

"For freedom Christ has set us free": Through anointing and mercy, unburdened of the past and forward to the Kingdom which lies ahead

"Follow me."

Sadness and inertia are often brought on by morbid delectation of the sins and problems of the past. The spiritual condition is akin to death and can result in a falling away from the practice of the Faith. Today we hear about the work of Christ in us, anointed for life and for the kingdom, because "for freedom Christ has set us free."

Elijah calls Elisha to go forward, anointing for a new life as prophet of God. But Elisha's first reaction is to go backward, back to his family instead of forward in trust with God. And in the Gospel, those privileged to hear the call of the Lord to join Him in the kingdom respond by saying thjat they must instead bury the dead! "Let the dead bury the dead!"

The anointing that Elisha received was a sign of the anointed One, Christ, who calls us to be freed in Him from the past, and from sin, and to be freed for a purpose: for Him, for His Kingdom of eternal life and love.

The past, with its sins and memories, with its tragedies and failings threatens our freedom. In Christ we are offered the anointing of Baptism and the sacramental life for the purpose of giving bcak to us the freedom that God intended from the beginning but which was lost with the slavery of sin. Saint Paul speaks of this in the second reading today: "For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery."

To choose life in Christ is to choose to celebrate the Sacraments properly and fully so that by the Lord's anointing of mercy we can joyfully, in freedom, accept His invitation to the Kingdom: “Follow me.”

In our baptism we were freed from original sin. In our confirmation we are freed from fear and lack of courage to be heroes and witnesses. In Confession we are freed from slavery to the most serious, or mortal, sins. In communion the Lord forgives our venial sins.

In every sacrament, the Lord offers us the gift of freedom with a purpose, so that we might sincerely accept His invitation to the Kingdom. "For freedom Christ has set us free." But the grace of the sacraments must be used as we intentionally choose to let the dead bury the dead, to refuse to languish in the past, to refuse to give our imagination and memory over once again in slavery to the old way of life with the ugliness of sins and failings: “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Let us say today with complete trust in God: “I will follow you wherever you go.”

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