Sunday, June 30, 2013

For Freedom Christ Set us Free

Jesus radically surrenders to the plan of the Father.  “When the days for Jesus’ being taken up were fulfilled,
he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem.”  When the time ordained by the Father arrived, Jesus turned his face towards Jerusalem where he would offer his whole life as a sacrifice for sins.  This whole-hearted surrender to the Father is model for our personal discipleship.

We can see this dynamic of surrender in Elijah and Elisha.  Elijah was called by God to choose his successor: Elisha.  Elijah heeded the Lord’s command and threw his cloak around Elisha as a sign of taking him into his own family.  Elijah invited Elisha to a familial relationship; he didn't force him, but Elisha hesitated for a moment saying, “Please, let me kiss my father and mother goodbye, and I will follow you.”

Elijah’s invitation to Elisha is closely paralleled by Jesus.  He too extended the invitation of discipleship.  He said, “Come follow me!”  However, Jesus was met by excuses: “let me go first and bury my father” and “Let me say farewell to my family at home.”  In and of themselves, these are good and things, but not when they prevent you from following the will of God.  Jesus saw into their hearts and knew them to still be divided in their loyalties to him, so he rebukes their excuses.

As St. Paul wrote, “For you were called for freedom, brothers and sisters.  But do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; rather, serve on another through love.”  Jesus invites us to freely choose him.  This freedom isn’t for the sake of selfishness, or as St. Paul calls it, slavery to the flesh.  Freedom is for love, especially love of God.  It is when we love and give ourselves in complete service to the Father that we find ourselves most free.

In contrast to Jesus’ would-be followers, Elisha responded to Elijah’s invitation in freedom and love.  Rather than go back and put his hand to the plow, Elisha took the plow and he burned it.  He slaughtered his cattle and had them eaten, completely cutting himself off from his previous agrarian life.  This is an allegory.  Elisha didn’t give an opportunity to the flesh to corrupt his freedom.  He put sin to death by the flames of love.  He boiled the flesh and turns from his old life into a new life following Elijah as his attendant.  This is the sort of total, radical, free, and immediate commitment that Jesus is looking for in his own disciples.

The power to freely surrender to the will of the Father comes from the Holy Spirit.  Paul writes, “I say then: live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh.”  It is the Spirit who reminds us of all that Jesus has taught us.  It is the Spirit who bestows on us grace.  It is the Spirit who makes us children of the Father.  Finally, it is the Spirit who brings us freedom for “if you are guided by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”  Those who are guided by the Spirit have no need of the law because they are already filled with love.  No one needs to tell them not to steal or murder.  My brothers and sisters, this is freedom: loving totally and radically without hesitation.  This is the very love with which Jesus loved us when he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem.


  1. Hi James:

    Fr. Thompson told me about your blog. First time I'm viewing it. Glad to see you're doing one. Do you Tweet as well? Some other social media outlet you use?

    Pacem -- J.D.K., Catholic Herald

  2. I'm also on Twitter and Facebook. I think you already follow me on Twitter.