Homily Fourth Sunday of the Year A

By 1:34 PM

People throughout time have fought battles and wars, killed and given their lives in the continual struggle for independence. Within each person there is a need to be free and self-governed. From the time a child is born there is a movement from dependence to independence. Adolescents and young adults express this in a spirit of rebellion against parental authority and indeed against all authority. To break with the past and to embrace the new fad seems to be an ever recurrent experience. In the name of freedom people are willing to sell their souls from fleeting pleasures.

Dependence seem to connote the idea of lack of freedom and under the control and domination of another. But at times the struggle to be independent and free may really turn out to be exchanging one domination for another.

In the Gospel Jesus speaks of real freedom and true self-identity which involves dependence upon another, freely chosen.

Blessed are the poor in spirit! This doesn't mean "blessed are the depressed or downcast or those broken in spirit.  Rather it means that the poor in spirit are blessed, because regardless of what they have or do not have, they choose to be totally dependent upon the Lord for everything. There is a freeom in not worrying about tomorrow--what we are to wear or eat or drink. We are told instead to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. Then all these things shall be ours.

To be dependent upon the Lord for everything is a scary thing unless there is a relationship of trust and love. How can I yield my life to another unless I believe that the other person truly loves me and wants my best?

What Jesus invites us into is a relationship which frees us from incompleteness. God created  me in relation to him. I am not complete outside of that relationship. I am not my full person; I am not truly free and independent of that relationship. By nature I am one in relationship to another. I must be in a relationship, either in this one which frees me to be me or another, which enslaves me to be what another wants me to be.

We are called by the prophet Zephaniah in the first reading to be humble and to live in the truth. The humble person acknowledges that need for God which is integral to his very being.

When we sin and return to the Lord, we express our dependence upon his forgiveness and mercy. Like the prodigal son of the merciful father. He came to the realization that alone he would die totally deprived of dignity, but in relationship to his father, he would have life and purpose once more.

"Trustful surrender of a present good is the way to open oneself up to God's gift of something greater." (St. Theresa Benedicta)

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