How easy it is to forget the freedom that Jesus won for us on the Cross. How easy, as well, it is to be careless in navigating the pitfalls the world presents to us each day for it is often that carelessness that erodes our precious freedom so that eventually we can cease to be Christians in spirit and become Christians in name only, if even that.
The great gift of freedom obtained for us by Jesus is the freedom to choose to be in relationship with Him and thus with the Triune God rather than to be enslaved by the evils paraded to us daily by the enemy. It is in resolving each day to seek and to nourish our relationship with our God that we invite the grace necessary to secure our freedom. If we don’t do this, we leave the “barn door” open and the enemy, whether we intend it or not, will enter and begin to pick away at our freedom so that eventually we can find ourselves with a new master and we may be chained indeed.
The potential episodes of enslavement are too numerous to mention in this short blog but I am sure that you can imagine them. Sunday’s scripture readings from the 18th Sunday of Ordinary Time in Colossians 3: 1-5 and 9-11 invite us to focus on things from above and not on things of the earth as befits us as Disciples of Christ. We have been liberated by virtue of our Baptism but that liberation is always subject to attack. The Gospel parable from Luke 12: 13-21 illustrates with one good example how the enemy can penetrate our defences and entice us to sin. The parable story of the rich man and his barns is really a story of greed. The rich man, who was no doubt motivated initially by “security”, allowed this understandable inclination to colour his thinking so that eventually he became preoccupied with his own comfort to his detriment and likely to the detriment of those around him. It’s instructive that Jesus didn’t criticize the rich man for his productivity and careful planning. After all we are expected to be good stewards of the blessings we receive. Jesus criticized him for his preoccupation with his material goods which, in the case of the rich man of the parable, amounted to a form of idolatry. We are left with the impression that this rich man didn’t consider his wealth incidental to be used not only for his own benefit but also for the benefit of others but as his primary possession calculated to satisfy his own selfish purposes.
The parable in Luke 12 speaks to our modern materialistic society. The temptation to embrace wealth has always been there and the enemy no doubt prowls around looking to ensnare people, particularly the spiritually challenged. If you look around, you will see in the lives of many seniors an unhealthy preoccupation with creatures comforts in their retirement years. What may have begun as an exercise to create security through legitimate retirement planning spills over into greed that considers those creature comforts to the exclusion of the legitimate needs of others. Any of us, in theory, can fall victim to this type of demonic snare unless we have pursued with great ardour our relationship with God. We don’t have to be spiritually challenged. The choice is ours. We can maintain our freedom and leave open the channel that feeds us the grace that we need to live lives of love unfettered by the wiles of the enemy.