JULY 4, 2004, 14TH SUNDAY
HOMILY-GALATIANS 6:14- 18; LUKE 10:1-10, 17-20

GOD IS NOT MOCKED, FOR A PERSON WILL REAP ONLY WHAT HE SOWS. Human freedom is a power that constitutes the heart of our own person; it is the center from which our personal existence takes its character and achieves its worth. By our free choice we decide not only what we do but also what we become. We ourselves dispose of our being; our deliberations and the decisions we arrive at as a result of them have a far-reaching force. They fashion the very self that we become as we pass through this world of time.

Ultimately, they do more: they form the person that we shall continue to be for all eternity. This is the truth that behind St. Paul’s words to the Galatians: GOD IS NOT MOCKED, FOR A PERSON WILL REAP ONLY WHAT HE SOWS. He explains himself in terms that imply this radical principle at work in the depths of our being lives when he adds: “because the one who sows for his flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows for the spirit will reap eternal life from the spirit.” By choosing the things of the spirit we ourselves become spirit; we share in its properties which include freedom from corruption and the vitality of life without end.

Our Cistercian fathers were profoundly marked by this law of our nature; they were so convinced of its operations that they made it the foundation of their spirituality. Our human dignity is founded on our capacity for freedom of deliberate choice, St. Bernard maintains. By making right use of this power we regain our intended likeness to God. The words of St. Paul invite us today to reflect on this mysterious power that is at our disposal and which we make use of so regularly in the course of daily life and to resolve to put it at the service of the Lord Jesus.

In today’s Gospel he gives us some indications that his service can entail real dangers when he warns his disciples that he sends them out into the world like lambs among wolves. At the same time he also gives us the power to overcome evil so that, as he affirms, “nothing will harm” us. Our part is to receive this power with a confident faith so that we adhere to his will, acting according to his Spirit in our deliberate choices. We cannot expect to manage such fidelity without a struggle against our selfish passions and our fears. These are the kind of wolves that we encounter. All too often they prove no less dangerous than the wild animals and poisonous snakes that were a threat to the apostles’ journeyings. This is the task assigned by Lord to those he calls to our way of life, for only when we deliberately confront and renounce our own fears, resentments, anger and selfish drives can we sow in the spirit as Paul urges us to do.

The last word our Lord speaks on this occasion when he addresses his disciples, is a word of promise and encouragement: “rejoice, because your names are written in heaven”. Here at this altar he gives us still further cause for encouragement in the form of the Eucharist by which he enters into communion with each of us. May the strength we receive by his word and by this sacrament enable us always to sow in the spirit and to prove faithful stewards of the freedom that he bestows on us so that we might glorify him by becoming daily more conformed to him who calls us in the freedom of the children of God.

Abbot John Eudes Bamberger

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