Sunday, October 09, 2016

Set Us Free

For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.  Galatians 5:1

While still more people gathered in the crowd, Jesus said to them, “This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah. Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. Luke 11:29-30

The Bible in 50 Words
God made
Adam bit
Noah arked
Abraham split
Joseph ruled
Jacob fooled
Bush talked
Moses balked
Pharoah plagued
People walked
Sea divided
Tablets teach
Promise landed
Saul freaked
David peeked
Prophets warned
Jesus born
God walks
Love talks
Anger crucified
Hope died
Love rose
Spirit flamed
Word spread
God remained

Oh, freedom!  Paul exhorts the Galatians to side with the freedom that comes from faith rather than being enslaved to ancient laws and traditions (like circumcision).  This attitude opens up the mercy of God to all people, not just the Hebrews who viewed themselves as the chosen. Faith is what counts on the road to freedom. This result of Christ’s work for our freedom is then outlined in the confrontation related in Luke’s “good news.”

Recall the story of Jonah – he was a reluctant prophet doing everything he could do to escape the need to witness to the Lord in the world. Rather than head to Nineveh to preach, Jonah flees. It was not until being swallowed by the whale and then spit back out into the world that Jonah is granted his “freedom” to preach.  The reborn Jonah is a changed man accepting his mission. Thus the “sign of Jonah” referenced in Luke is accepting change as the ticket to freedom.  The sign also is doing what we are asked to do even if that means preaching of the need for repentance as a reluctant prophet who comes with news that the people do not want to hear.

Jesus does not stop there with his preaching to win us our freedom from sin. As the crowds on the road to Jerusalem increase, Jesus refuses to grant them yet another miracle or sign.  Instead of delivering a sign on the road, if people stay with Jesus on his walk to Jerusalem, through faith they will soon see something greater than another leper cured or another lame person walking. They will see Jesus endure a public trial, humiliation, capital punishment, and death to win our freedom through his resurrection. There is something greater here.  Maybe this is the greatest gift?  Faith would tell us that there is no “maybe” involved at all.

No more signs will be needed other than the light of Jesus in our lives. His yoke is easy.  His burden is as light as the cross you will pick up daily.

Most would agree the Bible is a Very Big Book. From Genesis to Revelation, there are 73 books in the Catholic canon; 46 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New. One could literally study it for a lifetime. Still, it’s awfully handy to have it condensed to just 50 words.

If God remains in this world fighting for our freedom, after all, we can at least accept the mission of Jonah and Jesus in how we conduct our lives.

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