Friday, April 15, 2011

Daily Lenten inspiration, April 13, 2011 (Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Lent)

Transcript of homily recorded on Wednesday, April 13, 2011

By Father Tim McGowan

I have a little history lesson for you: In 1833 the British parliament abolished slavery in all of the colonies, all the crown colonies. And this decree had a tremendous impact, of course, especially on the island of Jamaica. The slaves on the island of Jamaica were a major portion of their labor force. And as the official day of freedom approached, practically every slave stayed up all night long because they wanted to welcome the first rays of that first day of freedom in their lives. And as the sun came up, the slaves erupted in unrestrained celebration. They were free, and a new song was born. The words of it go this way: "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty I am free at last!"

Now, of course, we're familiar with those words because we associate them with Dr. Martin Luther King when he stood at the Lincoln Memorial, and we associate them with the civil rights struggle in this country. They symbolize the deepest longing in every human heart: the desire for freedom. To be fully and finally and genuinely free is the longing of every healthy heart.

And our readings for today, from the Gospel, deals with that desire. Jesus said, "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." The operative word here, the important word here, is truth. The truth will set you free. Freedom will be ours when — and only when — we are willing to link our lives with the truth. I'm going to give you an example.

First of all, we have to face the truth about ourselves. We're human beings, and we have limitations — certain limitations. There's no such thing as absolute freedom for any of us, and it would be silly to believe that. Even self-destructive, we would hurt ourselves and we would hurt other people. A young man under the influence of drugs, LSD, climbs to the top of a building, jumps off, he thinks he can fly like a bird. Well, that's not the truth. That's a falsehood. He deceived himself. He didn't recognize his own limitations. He fell and he died on the sidewalk below. He was dealing with an untruth; he wasn't dealing with truth. People, human beings, no matter what drugs they take can't fly like a bird. Mortal men and woman, all of us, have certain limitations. There are certain things we can't do. We have to face that truth. We have to live within the boundaries and our limitations. If we deny or ignore these boundaries and limitations, we self-destruct or we hurt others.

The other thing is that we have our loyalties. You and I have our value system — the things that we hold to be sacred, and we don't compromise them. And because of our loyalties, and because of our values, we live within certain constraints. We live and behave a certain way. This is the reason why Jesus spoke so forcefully about the importance of choosing the right master. Who is going to be the master of your life? He was much more concerned with who we belong to more than what belongs to us. He was much more concerned with what we belong to than what belongs to us. And believe me, we all serve a master. Who or what that master is will determine the quality, even the quantity, of our days.

If our master is money, and the things that money can buy, it will determine our friends, it will determine how late we work at night, where we live. We will sacrifice it all for that.

If our master is sensuality and sexuality, if it's drugs or alcohol, it will determine the amount of freedom that we experience, and it will limit it.

And so, every one of us belongs to something. Every one of us serves some master. Who that master is determines how much, or how little, freedom you and I enjoy.

So, in the final analysis, there is only one who is the worthy master of lives, and that is, of course, the Christ — Jesus himself. True freedom can only be found nowhere but in him. He says in the Gospel, "If the Son frees you, you will really be free."

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