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The world seeks freedom more than anything else today.

Yet, the irony is that the


slavery of the world actually is masked by freedom. In the name of freedom and
human rights, the world wants total autonomy from the Laws, from God and from the
state. Today, we have a ludicrous situation when the freedom of the individual is given at
the expense of the common good, their safety and community rights. The freedom of the
individual turns out to be pure individualism, self-centeredness and egotism. Such a
person is no longer free! He is, as St Paul says, the slave of self-indulgence. He is a
slave of his passions. That is not real freedom! He is unable to free himself from
addiction to drugs, food and drinks. He is obsessed with anger, revenge, jealousy and
envy. He thinks of nothing except money and sex. Or else, he is ambitious.
But Christ has set us free. We are truly free, both from the Laws and from sin. The
freedom gained for us by Christ is freedom firstly from the Laws. Salvation is the
free gift of Christ through faith in Him by His passion, death and resurrection. We do not
earn our salvation but it is a pure gift from God. He wants to love us and there is nothing
we can do to earn or merit the love and grace of God. Consequently, a Christian no
longer lives under legalism, worrying about breaking the Laws or trying to prove that he
is worthy of Gods love. Through Christ, we know that God loves us even when we are
sinners. He wants to save us from our sins and from being slaves to our passion and the
world.
The corollary of being freed from the Laws does not mean that we can continue to
live in sin. That would be to fall into self-indulgence, which is worse! St Paul warns us,
When Christ freed us, he meant us to remain free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not
submit again to the yoke of slavery. Let me put it like this: if you are guided by the Spirit
you will be in no danger of yielding to self-indulgence. That is why those who say that
Gods grace alone has saved them and yet continue to sin are cheating themselves. If we
truly believe that God has saved us in Christ through the price of His blood, we will never
continue to live a life of sin because we want to return the love that Christ has paid for us
by His death.
How do we know that we are walking in the freedom of the Holy Spirit? What is real
freedom? Freedom is the ability to determine our lives and live in a way that brings true
and lasting happiness with the capacity to give and love freely and unconditionally like
our Lord Jesus Christ. When one is capable of love and giving to the extent of death, he
is truly free.
What does it mean to serve the Lord in the freedom of the Spirit? It means that we
are now ready for service for Christ and our fellowmen. The first reading and the
gospel speaks of the call of the Christian. This service is ultimate for the service of love.
St Paul wrote, Serve one another, rather, in works of love, since the whole of the Law is
summarised in a single command: Love your neighbour as yourself. We are called to
give ourselves completely for the service of our fellowmen.
At the end of the day, our call is for the building of love and unity. We are to
reconcile the different warring factions of our day. St Paul warns us, If you go snapping

at each other and tearing each other to pieces, you had better watch or you will destroy
the whole community. Those who are free can then help others to find their own
freedom by journeying with them in freedom without judgment and condemnation.
When one is freed from his wounds and pains, he is able to journey with others in their
pains. Today more than ever, we need to attend to the wounds, especially in
relationships.
How then do we remain truly free? When we make Christ as our Lord and master
so that His Spirit can live and move in us. We can only be free in Christ because He
is the Way, the Truth and the Life. We are called to follow Jesus who lived a life of
total freedom for others and for God. He must be our master and portion. The psalmist
says, Preserve me, God, I take refuge in you. I say to the Lord: You are my God. Oh
Lord, it is you who are my portion and cup; it is you yourself who are my prize. If Jesus
is our master, it means that we must be attentive to His Word spoken to us through the
Word of God, the authoritative teachers of the Church. In all that we do, we must be
guided by the wisdom of the Word of God. You will show me the path of life, the
fullness of joy in your presence, at your right hand happiness forever.
What does it take to respond to Christ our master? Firstly, the bible says that our
response must be immediate and there should be no delay because it is the Lord who
calls. When God calls, we cannot delay because the king is calling us to be at His
service. This was the response of Elisha when called upon to follow after Elijah. Elijah
passed near to him and threw his cloak over him. Elisha left his oxen and ran after
Elijah.
Secondly, we must get our priorities right. To a would-be follower who said to Jesus,
Let me go and bury my father first. The answer of Jesus was swift, Leave the dead to
bury their dead; your duty is to go and spread the news of the kingdom of God. Jesus is
not teaching us to be irresponsible in the care of our parents. He is telling us that we
cannot serve our fellowmen or our parents unless we first serve God! When we make a
decision to serve God above all things, then we will see everything else in that
perspective. Loving and serving God becomes the reference point of all that we do.
Only because we love God totally, that we also want to show this love for our parents and
our loved ones. Only because we love God completely, can we also give ourselves
completely in service to others. Otherwise if we serve others, we will end up serving
ourselves unconsciously. We serve to get appreciation, recognition and gratitude. But
when we serve God, we need no other reward than to know that God is pleased with us
and that we love Him.
Thirdly, in responding to the call, it must be total and unconditional. There is no
picking or choosing what we like to do. When we do that we end up serving ourselves.
This is what many Catholics are doing. They pick and choose which doctrine they like
and reject those they do not like. They believe in themselves, not the gospel of our Lord
Jesus. Rather, we must be ready to wear the crown of thorns; not just seek the crown of
glory. We must not only accept the blessings from God but also the burden that comes
from them. We want God to bless us with talents, wealth and influence but we do not use

them for the service of others but for ourselves. We want to have children but we do not
want to look after them. We want to hold positions in church and society but we are
irresponsible. Elisha, when he was called, cut off his only security by killing the oxen
that he needed for his work and even burnt up the plough. In other words, he abandoned
everything, even his security to follow the Lord.
Fourthly, we must live a life of simplicity without desire for honorific titles or a life
of luxury. We must live simply so that we can love more, not focus on ourselves but on
others. Of course, we take what we need to live but we must not be overly concerned
about the pleasures of this world. We must abandon our security and trust in Him alone.
Jesus in no uncertain terms spoke about the cost of discipleship when he said, Foxes
have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his
head. It does not mean that we cannot enjoy the things of creation. By all means enjoy
what we have, share with others, but do not become a slave to all these things of the
world. Use them for love and for building communion, not simply for self. In other
words, we must not be attached to all these things. The only attachment that is allowed
for us is attachment to Christ, not even our loved ones, because they all belong to Christ
as well.
Fifthly, in following Jesus, there is no turning back. There must be no second
thought. We must be singular minded and resolute. That was the way Jesus served His
Father. As the time drew near for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely took
the road for Jerusalem and sent messengers ahead of him. Jesus reminded the disciple,
Once the hand is laid on the plough, no one who looks back is fit for the kingdom of
God. Anyone who lacks perseverance or gives up easily in the face of difficulties will
not be a good disciple of the Lord. Yet, we need to face the reality of provisional
commitment in love, both of marriage and priestly commitment today. We seem to lack
the capacity to love with commitment and make an irrevocable vow and promise.
In the final analysis, we cannot be free to love and be free for love and service,
unless we stay close to Jesus, especially in prayer every morning as He did. We must
wake up early each day and spend some time before the Lord in prayer, meditation and
contemplation. Only when we turn to the Lord in prayer to seek consolation,
understanding, wisdom and guidance from His Word and be filled with His love, will we
have the strength, capacity, joy and passion to make a difference in the world today.
Indeed, this is what we are all called to do. Being set free is a grace of God, a great
blessing. But it also means a grave responsibility to be sent out to set others free for God
and for love. So let us renew our love for the Lord once again and be renewed in His
Spirit. Only when we make the Lord our portion, our love and our life, can we love and
serve without having any agenda, any ulterior motive, any ambition except to be
messengers of His love and mercy so that we can set others free from fear of the laws and
the slavery of sin.