Thursday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 476

For just as you presented the parts of your bodies as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness for lawlessness, so now present them as slaves to righteousness for sanctification.

Freedom for the Baptized Christian begins with giving God his due; that is justice. We often think that justice concerns our relations with other people, and that's true. 
But it begins with a right relationship to the Truth who is God. The one who does not begin the day by expressing gratitude to God fails to do justice. The one who rushes hither and yon in a desperate attempt to meet every expectation, and never stops to praise the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit does injustice. 
Saint Paul uses stark, challenging language to show what it means to belong to Christ. He insists that we must be "slaves to righteousness for sanctification." This is paradoxical language because everybody knows that slaves are not free. Americans, given our sordid, recent memories of slavery, are especially repelled by this language. And yet the Holy Spirit impels us to surrender our life and will to the care of God, who alone is worthy of our trust, love and adoration. 
A nation of individuals -- notice the word divided at the root of the word individual -- would isolate themselves from father and mother, brother and sister, children and spouses, friends and neighbors, thinking therein lies both identity and freedom. 
The Christian does not go there. Rather, we turn to Jesus who willingly surrendered to death -- even death on a cross -- in his love for the God he called Father. There was no one else worthy of the gift of himself, and only the Father could fully appreciate the gift he offered. 
In our daily prayers and daily Eucharist we physically and spiritually join in that sacrifice. The Holy Spirit gathers us into the Priest, into his own Sacred Heart, as he offers himself on the altar of the cross. With this act of justice, we present ourselves as slaves to righteousness for sanctification. Swept into the Father's presence we hear his reassuring invitation, "Well done, good and faithful slave. Enter your Father's house!" 

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.