Called to Freedom

2 Epiphany

Not knowing it, we are found. Resting in peace under a fig tree, Nathanael is seen by the Son of the Father. “Lord you have searched me out and known me; you know my sitting down and my rising up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You trace my journeys and my resting-places and are acquainted with all my ways” (Ps. 139:1-2). Mercy and fear have kissed each other. It is a mercy to be seen by the merciful Christ, and a fearful thing to be seen in Truth. “Where can I go then from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?” (Ps. 139:7). This is not a prurient surveillance, a violation of personhood and privacy. Love Divine does not keep record of wrongs (1 Cor. 13). Rather, God looks not in order to look, but to forgive, save, and renew.

1 Sam. 3:1-10 (11-20)
Ps. 139:1-5, 12-17
1 Cor. 6:12-20John 1:43-51

“If you, Lord, were to note what is done amiss, O Lord, who could stand?” (Ps. 130:3). Indeed, who could stand? “For there is forgiveness with you; therefore you shall be feared” (Ps. 130:4). The balance is struck: The justice and the love of God convey a fearful forgiveness. We are released as responsible persons under the governing grace of God.

Yet it must be insisted that for freedom Christ has set us free. “Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1). This is freedom, however, given by Christ’s call and Christ’s grace. “He that the Son sets free is free indeed” (John 8:36). Flowing in the grace of this freedom can never mean that all things are lawful for me and therefore all things are beneficial. God forbid! True freedom is the freedom to love within the mystery of providence and the boundary of vocation.

Is the body free? Pushed by appetite, fleeting desire, animal urge, we humans, wonderfully made, can turn so terribly wrong. “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?” (1 Cor. 6:15). Perhaps the word of the Lord on this matter should be rare in these days (1 Sam. 3:1). The Church has lost much of its authority in speaking about the flesh and its weakness, and, no doubt, too much has been said in too much detail about physical loving and what is morally out of bounds. Mores on this matter have changed. Still, can we simply say that the body always gives healthy instruction? “Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.” What you eat and drink and the person with whom you share your body cannot be matters of indifference.

These are difficult matters, sensitive matters. Christ has come to dwell within us and no account of Christian freedom can avoid the necessity of control and restraint. Perhaps an old voice will help us: “Acknowledge, O Christian, your dignity. For now you share in the divine nature. Do not return to the old depravity of your debased condition. Recall of whose head and of whose body you are a member. Remember that you have been rescued from the power of darkness and transferred into the light and kingdom of God. Through the sacrament of Baptism you have become a temple” (Pope Leo, Sermo 1 in Nativitate Domini, 1-3; PL 54, 190-93).

One thing I do not ask of the Lord, one thing I do not seek, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Why ask when I am that house, as are you? In the grace of a gracious God, the temple is beautiful and free. Skin and hair and bone and blood. Verbum caro factum est.

Look It Up
Read Psalm 139. Search me out.

Think About It
To be dominated is to be addicted. But the temple is free.

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