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SLAVES NOT TO SIN BUT TO CHRIST

Father Francis's picture
Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time

Rom. 6:19-23 & Luke 12:49-53

We were once slaves to sin. Now, through the grace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ, we are able to obey God, to present ourselves as slaves to righteousness. But if Christians are freed from sin and enslaved to God, as Saint Paul writes in today's first reading, what kind of freedom is that?

We usually understand freedom to mean liberated from restraint in choosing and pursuing our own ideas. Paul held that it is impossible for a person to live in total independence, being subject to no one. He argued that the freedom from sin, achieved by Jesus’ death and resurrection, did not mean total and complete human independence but rather the acceptance of another Master, of God. This new life in Christ is not slavery as we understand the word; it is rather the highest and only freedom.

How do we attain this freedom? As we learn to trust in the promptings of the Holy Spirit, we begin to change, to be healed, to be submissive to Christ. As we embrace Christ, we are cleansed of our sins, our guilt disappears, our sinful patterns are put to death, and we are made alive (Rom. 6:4).

How can we present ourselves as slaves to righteousness? We start by allowing the Holy Spirit to change our way of thinking, commencing each day with prayer to commit our lives to Jesus and to seek God’s wisdom. As we put on the mind of Christ, we can fix our thoughts on God and on how much He loves us. We will be drawn into that same powerful love that drew Jesus to perfect obedience.

More and more, we will be able to love and forgive our enemies, to reach out to the suffering and to pray for the world which is in such turmoil. This happens in all those who present themselves as slaves to righteousness, consecrated to Jesus Christ, the Master of righteousness.

Most of us are creatures of habit. We like familiar routines and often seek security from things we can control. "Do you think I have come to bring peace on earth?" Jesus asks in today's Gospel. "No, I tell you, but division." How difficult His words can sometimes be!

His message is not just of peace and joy, but one of division and struggle as well. This is because He has come to separate darkness from light, and our fallen nature resists such separation.

It is in the nature of Jesus' Cross to refine us by dividing flesh from Spirit. Just as He triumphed over sin, so now He seeks to establish that victory in the lives of each of us. The more we allow His fire to cleanse us, difficult though it may be, the greater will be our inheritance at the end of time. And, the greater will be our peace in this life.

Jesus, the Prince of Peace, wants us to understand that His peace will fill us as we decide to follow Him, walking in His ways. Christian discipleship is costly; it can even cause divisions in families. But in even the most trying of circumstances, Jesus commands us and empowers us to love our "enemies and pray for those persecute" us (Mt 5:44). This is our choice and our blessing" in the midst of family conflicts. It flows freely as we recall God's mercy towards us and place our faith in the Holy Spirit's presence within us.

As we remain faithful to Jesus in our daily prayer and Scripture reading, and as we participate in the Church's liturgies and ministries, we will know the Spirit’s presence within us. He will strengthen and guide us through every conflict and struggle. Jesus assures us, "In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world" (Jn. 16:33).

Heavenly Father, You made us Your children through faith in Jesus Christ. Through the merits of His life, death and resurrection, set us completely free of every affection to sin. No matter how hard our path may be may we be assured that Your Spirit will help us to overcome every obstacle.

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