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Keeping Ourselves Slaves

Memorial of Saint Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor of the Church

First Reading: Acts 15:22-31

The Apostles and presbyters, in agreement with the whole Church,
decided to choose representatives
and to send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas.
The ones chosen were Judas, who was called Barsabbas,
and Silas, leaders among the brothers.
This is the letter delivered by them:
“The Apostles and the presbyters, your brothers,
to the brothers in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia
of Gentile origin: greetings.
Since we have heard that some of our number
who went out without any mandate from us
have upset you with their teachings
and disturbed your peace of mind,
we have with one accord decided to choose representatives
and to send them to you along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,
who have dedicated their lives to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
So we are sending Judas and Silas
who will also convey this same message by word of mouth:
‘It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us
not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities,
namely, to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols,
from blood, from meats of strangled animals,
and from unlawful marriage.
If you keep free of these,
you will be doing what is right. Farewell.’“

And so they were sent on their journey.
Upon their arrival in Antioch
they called the assembly together and delivered the letter.
When the people read it, they were delighted with the exhortation.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 57:8-9, 10 AND 12

R. (10a) I will give you thanks among the peoples, O Lord.
My heart is steadfast, O God; my heart is steadfast;
I will sing and chant praise.
Awake, O my soul; awake, lyre and harp!
I will wake the dawn.
R. I will give you thanks among the peoples, O Lord.
I will give thanks to you among the peoples, O LORD,
I will chant your praise among the nations.
For your mercy towers to the heavens,
and your faithfulness to the skies.
Be exalted above the heavens, O God;
above all the earth be your glory!
R. I will give you thanks among the peoples, O Lord.

Gospel: John 15:12-17

Jesus said to his disciples:
“This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.
No one has greater love than this,
to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
You are my friends if you do what I command you.
I no longer call you slaves,
because a slave does not know what his master is doing.
I have called you friends,
because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.
It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you
and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain,
so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.
This I command you: love one another.”

april 29

You don’t have to spend much time on the internet or social media before witnessing someone lash out against a teaching of the Catholic Church. Sadly, oftentimes the ones doing the e-bellowing are Catholics themselves. There are frequent jabs about the Church being “too rigid” is this arena or “too controlling” on that issue. Calls for the downfall of patriarchy are often echoed by chants of “stay out of my bedroom.”

Where is the disconnect?

“I no longer call you slaves,
because a slave does not know what his master is doing.
I have called you friends,
because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.”

Jesus presents us with a pretty clear answer: slaves don’t know what their master is up to; but friends know the intimacies of one another. Slaves are kept in the dark; friends are brought into the light.

Through the Word made flesh, Christians have been brought into the light. Jesus tells us Himself that He has revealed to us everything from the Father. The Church, for over 2,000 years, has labored to preserve these divine revelations and explain and expound on them to the Flock.

We don’t have to be slaves anymore, we can live in the glorious freedom of gracious friendship with God.

So why do we feel like the Church keeps us in chains?

Perhaps we are keeping ourselves enslaved because we have not sought to know what the Master is doing?

Think of the Church’s teaching on prayer, the sacraments, morality, or what we profess in the creed—think on the one you have a hard time with. Which one makes you feel enslaved?

Now, ask yourself: Have I taken the time to read about this issue? Have I tried to understand the Church’s teaching on this subject by study and counsel from other knowledgable Catholics? Have I done my best to grasp why the Master is doing what He’s doing?

Sisters, let’s turn to our Church today with open hearts and minds. If we are confused, disgruntled, or sad about something, let’s turn to Scripture and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Let’s read Church documents and statements from the popes. Let’s do our best to accept the freedom that Christ offers us in His lasting and loving friendship.

Let’s allow ourselves to be set free from slavery.

photo credit

Olivia Spears is a middle school religion teacher turned SAHM who is married to her high school best friend. You can find out more about her here.

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