To serve God is to be truly free

God invites us to depend on Him and learn from His ways and follow his precepts, but He does not force us to do so.

Sep 23, 2022

        Reflecting on our Sunday Readings with Fr Andrew Kooi

26th Sunday of Ordinary Time (C)
Readings: Amos 6:1, 4-7;
1 Timothy 6:11-16;
Gospel: Luke 16:19-31

Are you a slave? Or are you truly free? Some of you may be thinking: “This padre has gone nuts. Of course I am free! How could I possibly be a slave? Is this padre trying to be funny with me?” But unfortunately, the reality is, that many people become slaves to one thing or another.

We become trapped or addicted to the thing we want to be free of. How can this be so? After all, we are free to do many things in this world, so how can we be enslaved, even though we think we are free or we appear to be free?

God invites us to depend on Him and learn from His ways and follow his precepts, but He does not force us to do so. To be His servant, to put our entire trust and faith in Him, we must do it freely, without compulsion. But when we begin to place our trust in things or persons other than God, we soon see ourselves losing our freedom and end up enslaved to these things.

We become slaves to these false gods. They begin to take control of our lives and take away our freedom.

Take, for example, money and wealth. We need to make a living and we need money to survive and function in this world, but when we begin to make money, some of us may begin to long for more and more of it, to the point we place our entire effort into making money. We begin to neglect or pay less attention to other things, including our health, relationships with friends and family, and even our relationship with God. When this happens, are we not enslaved or slaves to money and wealth? Has not money and wealth become like a false god to us?

Besides that, some may be addicted to substances like alcohol, and drugs, or undesirable habits such as gambling or pornography. When we allow ourselves to be controlled by such substances or habits, are we not enslaved by these things or habits? Have not these things or habits become like false gods to us?

Some of us may be addicted to our gadgets or gizmos such as mobile phones, video games, or tablets. We become so dependent on them that without them, we become restless and unable to concentrate, especially when we are at Mass. Instead of paying attention to what is going on at Mass, we are more attentive to hearing the mobile “ping” or some other similar sound coming from our gadgets or gizmos, and our fingers become itchy to reach for it, to have a look. When we allow ourselves to be controlled by such gadgets or gizmos, are we not enslaved by them? Have not these gadgets or gizmos become like false gods to us?

That is why, in today's Gospel, we are reminded that we cannot serve God and false gods at the same time. To serve God is to be truly free, whereas to serve false gods means losing this freedom. We cannot be free and not free at the same time. We must never forget that we were created to know, love, and serve God.

Life's attractions can draw us away from living as sons and daughters of God, and slowly take away our inner freedom and we become slaves to them; we become addicted, attached, and dependent on them, so much so that they become our false gods.

When we allow this to happen, when we become immersed in the ways of the world and the attractions of life, then we may be breaking the first commandment: “I am the Lord your God. You shall not have strange gods before me.”

Today, let us pray for the strength to truly know, love, and serve God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Today’s second reading reminds us: “For there is only one God, and there is only one mediator between God and mankind, Himself a man, Christ Jesus, who sacrificed Himself as a ransom for them all.”

Let us always remember that we cannot serve two masters and make every effort to cast off all our false gods and place our trust in God. Let us not allow ourselves to be enslaved by other things, persons, or habits, since it could enslave us and prevent us from growing closer to God or even completely losing our relationship with God.

Let us depend on our God and regain our freedom to become His sons and daughters.

(Fr Andrew Kooi is the parish priest of the Church of the Holy Redeemer, Klang.)

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