As I Have Loved You Week 8 - Freedom

(July 26, 2022)

Bottom line: "For freedom Christ set us free." That freedom is essential to becoming a disciple of Jesus. As he says, "Follow me."

This is the final homily in our series, "As I have Loved You." "As I have loved you," says Jesus, "so you also should love one another." Jesus does not say any old love will do. Jesus' love is much more than a feeling. It is a decision to love not only those who make us feel good, but to love those who make our lives difficult. "Love your enemy," says Jesus. We're all on the way to meet the Judge. So seek reconciliation with those you have harmed and those who have harmed you.

This love is demanding. We live in a society where people set out to crush their opponent. As Cardinal George observed, "our society permits everything, but forgives nothing." Jesus' love is the opposite: He makes strong moral demands, but he knows our weakness and is always eager to forgive. We of course have to ask for forgiveness as we do at the begin of Mass and before Communion. "Only say the word and my soul shall be healed."

Last week we saw a huge part of Jesus' love: presence. Jesus makes himself present through the Holy Spirit who is the substantial love between Father and Son. Jesus not only makes himself spiritually present, but also physically present in the Eucharist. Physical presence is a major part of Jesus' love. That's why last week I asked your presence, first at Mass then in our Faith Formation program.

Presence is especially important for our dads. If we are going to have successful faith formation, I need our men. In August we are going to have a Day of Reflection for men. The theme will come from Paul's letter to the Corinthians: "You have been purchased at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body."

This is similar to what we hear today: "For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery." Christ gives us true, basic freedom, but the devil tries to entice us into a false freedom. He tells us, "don't worry, you can do anything you want with your body. It doesn't matter."

No, God has a plan and purpose not only for our souls but also for our bodies. This is going to be a big part of our faith formation program. It's often called the Theology of the Body. Our bodies give us a clue to discern God's purpose for our lives: obviously in marriage but even for those who do not marry.

Let me give a personal example. When I was in Peru in the early eighties, I met with a young mom and her children. After a conversation and prayer, she looked at me and said, "You are my father." A few years later I was returning home, she told me. "My husband has left me. I can't afford the clothes and food my children need. Padre, you are returning to the United States. Here, take my baby."

I took the child in my arms, a beautiful baby boy. "Yolanda, so many families would love to have this child and they would give him everything. But it is better you keep him and we will find a way to help."

At that time, almost 30 years ago, I founded the Mary Bloom Center and each year I have returned for those families and children. We don't have great financial resources. I always wish we could do more. Still, I'm convinced that the gift of presence matters more than anything else.

"As I have loved you, so you also should love one another." Love involves the gift of fatherhood and spiritual fatherhood; also motherhood and spiritual motherhood. We men and women need each other. God made us complementary.

These coming weeks you will have the blessing of Father Tim Sauer. I'll be back for the last two weekends of July. Today I ask you to take home Paul's words, " "For freedom Christ set us free." That freedom is essential to becoming a disciple of Jesus. As he says, "Follow me." Amen.


Spanish Version

Homily for 13th Sunday Year C 2016 (audio version)

From Archives (Homilies for Thirteenth Sunday, Year C):

2019: Lead Us Not Into Temptation
2016: Becoming a Disciple Week 4: Consistency
2013: For Freedom Christ Has Set Us Free
2010: Celibacy vs. Not Getting Married
2007: True Freedom
2004: Two Approaches to Jesus
2001: The Paradox of Jesus
1998: Don't Look Back

Other Homilies

Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C

Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)

Take the Plunge Bible Study (audio resources) *New episodes for Ordinary Time leading up to Lent*

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Other Priests' Homilies, Well Worth Listening:
Fr. Frank Schuster
Fr. Brad Hagelin
Fr. Jim Northrop
Fr. Michael White
Fr Pat Freitag (and deacons of St. Monica)
Bishop Robert Barron

Bulletin (St. Mary of Valley Parish)

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MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru