June 26, 2022 – 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/062622.cfm)
As we grow older, we also develop fondness and attachments to few or many things, people, events and even memories of our past. This fondness and attachments could just because of our liking or comfort and pleasure. But to a deeper level, we have grown attached to it because it fills our emptiness, it satisfies our deep longing, and pampers our deepest desire.
However, when we are not conscious of these, such attachments that we have developed could make us stagnant, uncompromising, and indifferent to the point that our attachments to things, people, belief or memories become an obsession.
In fact, the younger generation today may have more chances to be more fixated and attached to things. Like for example, it is a common sight today of parents allowing their young children as early as 2 or 3 years old playing with smartphones, iPads or tablets to be entertained and to keep the child occupied. Perhaps because parents are multi-tasking and of the amount of workloads they have, that they cannot be always available to their small child. Thus, giving a smartphone to them would be the most convenient to do and to let these gadgets do the babysitting.
However, when this is not regulated and parents are not mindful enough of its effect to the child, the child may also grow a deeper attachment to gadgets that when a gadget is taken away, the child could throw an endless tantrum. That deeper attachment to a gadget of a child will be intensified when physical presence of parents is deprived in the formative years of the child. Consequently, gadgets fill up that emptiness in a child and satisfy the longing from a child to his or her parents.
On this 13th Sunday of Ordinary Time, our readings invite us to look at ourselves, to look at our attachments and to examine the quality of our commitment in our relationships with others and with God. Thus, allow me now to go a bit deeper into our readings today and let us see how God invites us to be free and to be more available.
St. Paul in his letter to the Galatians acknowledges that Christ sets us free from the yoke of slavery. This yoke of slavery is our very attachments to things, to pleasure and to comfort that only satisfy oneself but indifferent to the needs of others. St. Paul further reminds us that this can be very dangerous because we will never be satisfied but rather will only go on biting and devouring one another. Though this sounds horrifying, but Paul wants to tell us that when selfishness fills our heart, then we also become corrupt and vicious in our relationship with one another. Accordingly, for St. Paul, this is not true freedom but slavery. Freedom, as St. Paul reminds us, is to be able to serve one another through love.
This is what Jesus is trying to teach to his disciples especially when James and John suggested to him to call fire from heaven and to consume a Samaritan Village. The reaction of James and John tells us of a fixation to power and authority. As disciples of the Lord, the two could have also grown entitled who wanted to assert their power and authority to people who did not belong to their group. Yet, Jesus reprimanded them because power and authority is not about being able to punish people or to become destructive and cruel to those who are against us. Power and authority is freedom to give life, to inspire life and motivate life in the community. Thus, when we ourselves become obsessed with power and authority, we also become entitled, demanding and abusive in our relationships. And this happens in our homes, workplaces, organizations and communities. Indeed, beware that we will not be consumed by this obsession.
Moreover, Jesus points us another aspect of being free and that is in following him. Many expressed that they want to follow him, yet, because of their personal attachments to comfort, to people and other things in life, they cannot fully commit to the Lord. Jesus calls us that in order to follow him whether in religious life, in married life or in friendship is to fully commit ourselves. This calls us also to detach ourselves from whatever that prevents us to be more available in our commitment.
This is what Elisha shows us in the first reading from the First Book of Kings. Elisha who was called to follow Prophet Elijah gave up his attachments in life symbolized in slaughtering his oxen and giving it to people to eat. This was his form of giving up and detaching from what would prevent him from responding to the call of God through Elijah. Elisha made himself free so that he will be available for God and for the ministry he was called to do.
Now, there are at least three take aways that I want you to bring home today.
First, acknowledge our attachments, fixations and obsessions that prevent us from being free. This could be a thing, a person, a belief, an opinion or a particular unreconciled memory of our past. As we recognize them, may we come to realize and get hold to what really satisfies us, to what truly gives us life and freedom. Thus, may we always come to the point that it is Christ who sets us free, that it is God who fills our emptiness and longing in our heart, and who heals our broken hearts.
Second, slowly but consciously detach from those attachments, fixations and obsessions. It won’t be easy to stop an old habit already engrossed in our subconscious. Thus, we also need people to accompany us and to help us in order to remind and motivate us. In case we need a professional help, then, seek that help.
Third, humbly serve others by being physically and mentally present. St. Paul tells us that we are called for freedom, not to serve our ego, but to serve one another through love. Let this be a reminder to all us, to parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, collogues, ministers and religious that it is in a loving-service and not in controlling and manipulating others that we find true freedom and that we are able to give life. Kabay pa.