u-s-catholic-sunday-reflections

A reflection for the thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Father Ferdinand Okorie, C.M.F. reflects on the readings for June 26, 2022.
Catholic Voices

Readings (Year C):

1 Kings 19:16b, 19 – 21
Psalms 16:1 – 2, 5, 7 – 8, 9 – 10, 11
Galatians 5:1, 13 – 18
Luke 9:51 – 62

Reflection: The freedom of the children of God

The experience of freedom foregrounds the identity of the children of God, because of what God has accomplished through Jesus Christ. God’s children trust in God’s leadership through Christ, who is the origin of this experience because he sets us free, liberating us from the slavery and bondage of sin. Because of the actions of Jesus, every believer has come under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and the law of love.  

This obedience to the law of love manifests in service of one another. In the second reading today, Paul is adamant that the law governing our experience of freedom is the overwhelming disposition to love and serve one another with humility.

On this basis, the experience of freedom as a member of God’s household is never about personal honor, fame, or glory. Rather, this freedom happens when we are present to each other, putting others’ needs and interests ahead of ours. It is the kind of freedom that the Good Samaritan experiences when he puts his own needs on hold to serve another. In Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis writes about the Good Samaritan as an example of one who is conscious of his membership in the household of God as he puts aside his personal commitments and desires to attend to a vulnerable child of God who is “deserving of his time and attention.”

Similarly, when Elisha wholeheartedly makes a career change to serve his sisters and brothers in God’s household and draw them deeper into their covenant with God, he makes a complete break with his former life, slaughtering his oxen and prepared a feast using his farming equipment so everyone can eat and make merry. Elisha’s action reveals that the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others is an invitation that surpasses any personal inclination or ambition. It is a call to cooperate with God’s plan for the renewal of the world.

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The would-be disciples of Christ in the Gospel today experience the struggle to be free from a single-minded vision of the world and embrace the vision of the world Jesus calls us to. Jesus’s conversation invites them to free themselves from a parochial and inward-looking vision in favor of a universal and unitive way of being present in the world.

Jesus’ invitation to the would-be disciples is a call to transcend the inclinations of the self, which is bound to a location and place, isolated by race, ethnicity, nationality, province, biases, and idiosyncrasies, and to enter the spiritual, and live under the guidance of the Spirit. Such a life becomes universal, diverse, neighborly, and humane. Freedom, therefore, becomes an experience in “right relationship with God, with one another and with all of God’s creation” as the USCCB insists in Open Wide our Hearts. The Enduring Call to Love. Today, the same invitation is offered: do not allow our world’s violence and hatred to destroy us but be disciples of love and unity.

About the author

Ferdinand Okorie, C.M.F.

Ferdinand Okorie is a member of the Claretian Missionaries, an assistant professor of New Testament and Early Christianity and the Director of Bible Study and Travel Programs at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. He is the editor-in-chief at U.S. Catholic.

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