When reflecting upon the second reading from Paul to the Galatians, I was struck by the whole concept of freedom, and how we have really twisted its meaning. Society has this mistaken notion that freedom is the right to do whatever we want – “as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “Freedom is the power, rooted in reason and will, to act or not to act, to do this or that, and so to perform deliberate actions on one’s own responsibility.” (#1731) Freedom is a gift from God that allows us to respond to His great love for us. Without freedom or free will, real love cannot exist. That would be called manipulation or control- not love. Freedom is not only a gift, but a responsibility – something to be employed thoughtfully – wisely.
Paul said, ” 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.” Real love is selfless – not selfish. It is life-giving.
That has been my experience of God’s love. So often, we find ourselves caught in a whirlwind of things that consume us – work, responsibilities, entertainment – noise, noise, noise, movement, movement, movement… God’s love is life-giving and refreshing. In order to feel that, however, we must put Him absolutely first in our lives. Doing the minimum – mass on Sunday and a prayer before turning in isn’t going afford us that peace that our hearts and souls are craving. We’ve got to carve out time each and every day for silence and stillness, for it is there where we might hear God’s whisper and feel His calming presence deep within. “He is as close to you as the very beating of your heart,” a woman once told me. I’ve held onto that wonderful thought! Sit for a few moments and try to focus on the pulsing of your heart. Imagine your heart and Jesus’ heart beating as one together. He’s that close! Isn’t that amazing and awe-inspiring?
The gospel reiterates the importance of putting God first in our lives. Jesus makes it very clear that second or third place will not do! Our priorities have got to be
#1 God, #2 Family, #3 Everyone/Everything else
When we order our lives this way, we acknowledge and honor God’s dominion over our lives. We use our gift of freedom to return love for Love. It is then that we can rest in the knowledge that God will be faithful to us – ever-present – always providing exactly what we need when we need it. God’s generosity is never outdone! To this I can surely testify!
“Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33