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 (Galatians 5:13).
My Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
We enter into the “Ordinary Time” of the Seasons of the Liturgy. Jesus tells us that our understanding of ‘ordinary’ in the secular sense is not the same as what He preaches. He tells us that ordinary time means living as a dwelling place of God. St. Paul tells the Galatians the same; know who you are as a dwelling place of God and serve one another through love. St. Paul tells us that our freedom through, with and in God is not the freedom to pursue worldly desires. It is the freedom to love as Jesus asks, love one another as He loves us. This unmatched love is ours to embody and share.
During this Ordinary Time, we also enter the season of ‘vacationing’ or ‘freedom’ from work, school classes or other daily duties. Traditionally the month of July is a time when families travel longer distances to see each other or to take trips to experience different parts of the country or the world or enjoy some respite at home. This time, too, is sacred because we experience vacation as a dwelling place of God. We serve God no matter the season. During times of vacation, we continue to pray, to participate in the celebration of Mass, to receive our spiritual nourishment through the Eucharist. It is a wondrous time to serve one another by offering care for the sick and the lonely; volunteering on a mission trip; pilgrimage to holy sites; visit other Catholic churches; or take time to serve a meal to those who are hungry. The care of God’s people continues throughout all times as we are called to serve God.
Pope Francis said, “The freedom of Christian faith — Christian freedom — does not indicate a static vision of life and culture, but rather a dynamic vision, a vision that is dynamic even in tradition. Tradition grows, but always with the same nature. Let us not claim, therefore, to possess freedom. We have received a gift to take care of. Rather, it is freedom that asks each one of us to be constantly on a journey, oriented towards its fullness. It is the condition of pilgrims; it is the state of wayfarers, in continual exodus: liberated from slavery so as to walk towards the fullness of freedom. And this is the great gift that Jesus Christ gave us. The Lord has liberated us from slavery freely, and has set us on the path to walk in full freedom.”
When I was a child attending school, my teacher would ask us to return to class at the end of the summer and talk about ‘what we did during summer vacation.’ Many of us would tell stories of family visits or grand trips and there were a lot of oohs and ahs from our classmates. How differently now would that telling be if we focused on telling God what we did; how we flourished His Kingdom on earth for His glory. What would we say about how we spread His love to one another as He asks of us?
As you enter this Ordinary Time, pray to God for inspiration and guidance to seek Him in every moment that His dwelling place is fulfilled. When He speaks, “Follow Me,” our response in words will not be necessary for all will know by our serving one another. Then the world will be transformed by His freedom.