By Deacon John Cronin:
This weekend we celebrate Independence Day.
We rejoice in our freedom from tyranny.
But the worst kind of tyranny lies in the neglect of our own freedom.
As Christians, we are called to celebrate our independence every day.
Not independence from God, but from sin and death.
We are given the gift of independence by being totally dependent!
Dependent on Jesus.
On his power.
On his love.
On his Cross and resurrection.
He sets us free.
We are a people who love freedom and self-rule.
But Jesus tells us we cannot be truly free until we let God rule.
If we love God, our lives are really not our own.
We are caretakers of his amazing gift of life.
Over twenty years ago, I went to Manhattan College.
I was young, on a full scholarship, and had the world at my feet.
I thought I was free.
I thought I was the ruler of my own little Kingdom.
But the more I ignored God…
… the more I chased freedom from Him,
… the more miserable and enslaved I became.
I had run away from an earlier call to labor in His vineyard.
I placed myself into a desolate land of exile among my selfish and petty pleasures.
Exile from true joy and satisfaction in God.
At Manhattan, I had a friend: Eugene Hamilton.
He was faithful to the Mass.
He was humble and kind.
And he exuded peace and contentment.
I didn’t get it!
How can a guy so bogged down by obedience to Christ and His Church be so free and happy?
Over the years, I lost contact with him.
But something about him moved me to remember my calling.
God planted one of the seeds of my salvation by the work of Eugene’s labors.
He’d never know the fruit of his labors.
After I came back to the loving arms of Jesus and Mother Church,
I heard that Eugene was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
He was only halfway through Seminary in New York.
He wouldn’t be able to finish.
But GOD, who began his good work in Eugene, would bring it to fulfillment.
All he wanted was to serve God as a priest,
To announce Jesus and His Kingdom.
To labor in His vineyard.
Rome gave permission for him to be ordained early.
You can read about his amazing life in the book called: “A Priest Forever”.
Death could not undo the life Eugene clinged to in Christ Jesus.
He let God rule the Kingdom.
He embraced his freedom in the Cross.
His joy and peace only grew stronger in his weakness.
We are called every day to let Christ rule the Kingdom,
No matter what suffering we endure,
Our pain and brokenness can be overcome by Jesus’s strength.
My prayer is that we truly love Jesus.
Because it is the only thing that truly satisfies the human heart.
. May we rest assured in our call to a life of tremendous rejoicing.
Each day we are invited to a life of independence from sin and death.
A life of total dependence on the loving power of Jesus.
If we bull-doze our way through life in sinful pride –
If we start to think freedom means that We are the gods of our own kingdoms,
Then we are saying NO to our own peace and happiness.
Eugene chose life in the face of death.
In my dissipated youth, I was more dead than Eugene lying in that coffin in the seminary chapel.
But Eugene helped me to see the beauty of God in my weakness.
If we realize our weakness – our dependence on the author of life,
We are saying YES to our own happiness.
The Spirit of the Risen Lord penetrates the weakest hearts,
He gives us a new heart.
He gives us His own heart.
Admitting our weakness invites God to be our strength.
Let Jesus rule the Kingdom.
Join in His labor of love.
Taste his love in His body and Blood.
The blood that saves us.
That makes our weakness our greatest strength.
The strength of the Risen Lord who gives us everything worth having.