Monday, January 18, 2010

What does it mean to be free?

In the first reading today we hear what may seem like a strange rebuke of Saul. He is declared by unfit to remain king because he allowed his mean to offer sacrifices, at a time when this was a normal way of worshiping God.

Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission than the fat of rams. For a sin like divination is rebellion, and presumption is the crime of idolatry.

The sin of Saul was the original sin. It is called idolatry because that's what it is. Saul decided for himself, contrary to the instructions he had received from God, that it would be a good thing to allow offerings be made to God.

We rarely thing of ourselves as idolaters, but whenever we decide for our self that, "God's law is outdated", or that something is no longer a sin because everybody is doing it, it is the sin of idolartry, because we have made ourselves God. We have given ourselves the power to decide what is right and wrong. This was the original sin.

Obedience is hard for us, in part because we mistakenly believe it is the opposite of freedom.
If I have to obey someone else, I am not free.

In fact the opposite is true. Obedience to God is the path to true free. It is God who created us, in his own image and likeness. God knows us better that we know ourselves. God knows our full potential, what we were meant to do in this world.

You think you are free? Which of us has not said or done something, and then asked ourselves, why did I do that or why did I say that? Which of us does not have some bad habit we cannot seem to break?

Only God's grace can truely free us to fulfill our true potential and be the person God had in mind at he moment of our conception. We receive that grace of God in the sacraments, but we must then allow it to work, allow it guide our words and actions, and this requires obedience.

In latin to obey is to listen. We must listen constantly for that voice of God, and trust that the path it directs is best. Then we will be truly free.