The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
for he sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor.
My Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
To whom did Christ send us to bring glad tidings to the poor? Our immediate family? Our extended family? Those who are without homes? Those who are hungry? Our business associates? Our parishioners? Those who are sick?
I ask you to reflect upon this as we enter this month of July and gather as a community of faith praising God for our freedom. How we respond to my first question is all telling in how we perceive the freedom we receive from God.
Saint Pope John Paul II said in speaking of the Ten Commandments, “Today as always, the Ten Words of the Law provide the only true basis for the lives of individuals, societies and nations. Today as always, they are the only future of the human family. They save man from the destructive force of egoism, hatred and falsehood. They point out all the false gods that draw him into slavery: the love of self to the exclusion of God, the greed for power and pleasure that overturns the order of justice and degrades our human dignity and that of our neighbor. If we turn from these false idols and follow the God who sets His people free and remains always with them, then we shall emerge ablaze with the light of God!”
We are social, communal people. We participate in God’s own triune nature because we are created in the image and likeness of God. As God is understood as a community of persons in relationship to each other, so we are a community of persons in relationship to each other. In this community we develop authentic freedom and flourish. Yes, we benefit from the advancement of modernity. We have only to remember the vaccine immediately developed for COVID-19 to understand this. Yet our modern world is called to benefit from the wisdom of the Church. It is not the Church who is remade because of the modern world; but the modern world should take the lead from the Church.
The Church is not some structure of buildings, empty and cavernous. The Church is each one of you, the community of faith, who fill the earth and receive Christ in the Eucharist to become Christ in the modern world. It is you who deliver the freedom of God within our daily living.
This is an awesome responsibility. We must prepare ourselves. It isn’t listening to the secular press; it means reading core documents and praying and reflecting upon them. This responsibility calls upon us not be ‘right’ or ‘left’, ‘liberal’ or conservative’, but of God, for God. Our responsibility means building a world of respect for human life and dignity, where justice and God’s Peace – His gift of forgiveness – prevails.
On the Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, we hear proclaimed, Jesus of Nazareth (Mark 6) is rejected—sometimes we are at our weakest in the presence of our own family! Yet, as St. Paul points out (2 Corinthians 12), even in the midst of our own sinfulness, we have reason to boast because of the freedom we receive through Christ’s love and fullness of power. When you speak with each other, do not disparage, or criticize. Speak with words of prayer and joy. Know the taste of true freedom and rejoice.