We hear in the Gospel Reading this morning the story of the son enticed by the world and its emptiness who realized he needed to find his way back to his father. (Luke 15:11-32) As I take a moment to reflect on the choices I have made thus far in my life, if I am honest I would have to say I wrestled with God for control of most of my life and still do.
In truth, if we let our free-will lead us away from God we are surrendering ourselves to the devil, becoming his slave and turning our backs on God. What seems like freedom only entraps us with addictions as we have less time for God and a false need for stuff or temporary pleasure where true happiness is not present. There is nothing normal about missing church services only abnormal temptations keeping us away. We become our own god with our self-love and its hate-potion that brings us more into solitude and separated from the flock of believers and to a place where the evil one will quickly corner and devour us.
Is the pig-slop the world is offering us really that good? Why do we keep eating it then? Our Father has prepared a great banquet for us, won’t you come? Every week we offer confession and communion and He is here, welcome home! Let us spit the rancid worldly slop out of our mouths and come home. He loves YOU! He wants to be your Father! Our Creator wants a son and a daughter, not a slave, and He will give your soul a place of rest when your time on Earth is finished. What does the world have to offer?
True freedom only comes from obeying God. A friend of mine some years ago asked me this simple question: If you’re not serving God, then who are you serving? St. Justin Popovich writes: “In truth there is only one freedom – the holy freedom of Christ, whereby He freed us from sin, from evil, from the devil. It binds us to God. All other freedoms are illusory, false; that is to say, they are all, in fact, slavery.” + St. Justin Popovich, Ascetical and Theological Chapters, II.36
Walking away from God enslaves us to death so we have the freedom to choose life in Christ or death in the world. Christ conquered death with His death so that you and I can choose a life of freedom, a life without end, a life lived in His will. “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matt 11:28-30)
In the kontakion we heard today: “I have recklessly forgotten Your glory, O Father; and among sinners I have scattered the riches which You had given me. Therefore, I cry to You like the Prodigal: “I have sinned before You, O compassionate Father; receive me a penitent and make me as one of Your hired servants.” (Kontakion of the Prodigal Son)
Fr. Gabriel Weller 2-24-2019