Be in your prayer space, follow the usual steps and settle into silence.

Settle into silence, into peacefulness, into profound silence and keep listening in quietness, stillness and serenity.

Now I invite you to consecrate your time and all that comes with this moment….in your own way, in humble, simple, may be even inadequate words………..

May this moment and all other coming moments open new doors for you and may God bless you with wisdom and courage to walk in faith, as you continue your journey of life!

Now from the depth of your heart begin to wish your mind well……….

Today, July fourth, we celebrate our freedom. Independence Day is one of the important days in the history of any country. We gratefully remember the sacrifices of many great men and women that finally broke the chains to let our country become a free nation. As we begin our day, let us take a step back and cherish our life and the country we live in while appreciating the sacrifices people made to give us independence today.

Don’t take your freedom and independence for granted. Someone had to work hard and make many sacrifices for it. Enjoy the blessings of freedom and independence and be grateful and follow the path of those who struggled for liberation.

Struggle for freedom, liberation and independence has been an integral part of human history.This meditation is on liberation, the kind of liberation that Jesus came to proclaim. One day, Jesus walked into the Synagogue and read from the book of the Prophet Isaiah (Luke 4:14-21) and declared that the words he read were being fulfilled. The words of Trito-Isaiah were words of good news, healing, and, most importantly, liberation for the listeners. This was Jesus’ agenda.

Jesus came to save and liberate humankind from sin and evil. He also came to liberate humankind from all other forms of enslavement as well: sickness, poverty, injustice, corruption, inequality, etc. Jesus, in his words and works, taught humanity that salvation and liberation are not simply otherworldly realities. They are the existential human experiences that shape our life and relationship now. Jesus did not merely promise heaven when you die. On the contrary, he demanded that there be forgiveness and healing, justice and peace, caring of widows and orphans and real sharing of the many blessings of God among people. He was not a reformer but a liberator, a savior.

Jesus established communion, fellowship with the poor, the downcast, the oppressed and the marginalized. He rejected wealth for wealth’s sake (Luke 18:18-38) and authority that dominates rather than serves (Luke 22:25-28). Jesus’ agenda created a new way of looking at God and God’s relationship with man and man’s relationship to his neighbor reality. Struggle for liberation gave a new meaning to suffering and the Cross.

It was only with the Second Vatican Council that a clear link was forged between the social ministry of the church and the nature and mission of the church. With sincerity and eloquence, the council spelled out their understanding of that commitment: “The joy and hope, the grief and anguish of the people of our time, especially those who are poor or afflicted in any way, are the joy and hope, the grief and anguish of the followers of Christ as well” (Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, 7 December 1965).

In 1971, the bishops of the world articulated a similar agenda: “Action on behalf of justice and participation in the transformation of the world fully appear to us as a constitutive dimension of the preaching of the Gospel, or, in other words, of the Church’s mission for the redemption of human race and its liberation from every oppressive situation” (Justice in the World).

The agenda of Jesus becomes the mission of the church and that agenda is one of liberation for all peoples from every form of enslavement, such as sin, injustice, poverty, illness, oppression, etc. The motivation for all our efforts at liberation is that we are one body; we share one baptism; we are all given to drink of the same Sprit; we, though many, are one; we, though with different social status, different ethnicity, different gifts, different functions, are all one body in Christ. It is this very oneness that must move us to action, for, when one of the members of the body of Christ suffers, all are affected. Therefore, each of us is responsible for the freedom and dignity of all of us.

The church is not merely a human institution. It was brought into being by the power of the Holy Spirit, whose abiding presence within the members of the body of Christ binds all to the same Head, Jesus Christ. If all are suffused with the same Spirit, all are one body…. Paul insists that God arranged for the diversity within the church. In fact, he calls diversity God’s gift to the church. (Read (1 Corinthian 12:12-30)
This understanding of the divine origin and intention of diversity speaks volumes to a fractured Christian community that continues to be divided by real and perceived differences.

We are tempted to think of differences as a barrier to unity and as obstacles to be overcome. But, by accepting differences as God’s gift, we are challenged to value one another as gifts of God, as well. So, frequently, believers are called upon to tolerate and be patient with one another despite their differences.

St. Paul called his readers and calls us today to move beyond tolerance to mutual love and respect He is also calling believers to love and respect one another and all others, not despite their differences but because of them.
In this, Paul is suggesting a very difficult and challenging agenda for us.

Luke described Jesus’ purpose as a proclamation of glad tidings: as good news for the poor, as liberty for captives, as sight for the blind, as release for prisoners, and as a year of favor (Luke 4:14-21), or a Jubilee year for all as the book of Leviticus demands (Leviticus 25:8-55). In early Christian usage, the terms liberty and release came to mean forgiveness from sin and release from all its manifestations, whether physical, psychological or spiritual. By using such a broad range of terms to describe the purpose of Jesus, Luke made it clear that his was to be a ministry of salvation that effected the liberation of the whole person, body and soul, mind and spirit.

Our baptism brings us into solidarity with Christ and with him into solidarity with all people as brothers and sisters. At our Baptism, we were anointed priest, prophet and king and fully incorporated into the mission of the Church which is sharing in the mission of Jesus and the mission of Jesus was redemption, salvation and liberation of God’s people from all forms of oppression.

The servant songs of the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 42, 49, 50, 52) celebrate the character of the servant of God who suffered and died for the sake of truth and justice and liberation. They also give us a vision of the character of every baptized person, the disciples of Jesus today. When the servant songs were first composed, it was Israel who was to see its identity and purpose described therein. Israel was called, named, identified, chosen and sent so that other nations will come to know God’s salvation, justice and peace. Today, the world must know these fundamental values through our Christina presence.

Israel was to be the sacrament of solidarity that God intended for all people. This unity, solidarity was to be accomplished by the establishment of justice and peace on earth…..the kind of justice that is attentive to “the full enhancement of human life….one that would touch all aspects of human interactions and social institutions and that is what liberation is.

Justice has to do with right relationships…right ordering of all relationships. Justice is a whole network of relationships and not just “same measure to everyone”. The basis of justice for Israel was the nations covenant with God. The basis of justice for us is our covenant with God….our baptism, our immersion into God’s life and love.

Israelites were to father the fatherless, mother the motherless, welcome the strangers, feed the travelers and show hospitality to resident aliens…not only because the outsider and the orphan deserved it, but because this was the manner in which God cared for Israel. They were to reflect the character of God….they were to give to others what God gave to them….they were to act toward one another as God had acted toward them.

Today, we, God’s people, the church, the body of Christ must be and become the symbol, the sacrament of God’s salvation, justice and peace…only then will freedom become a reality for us. Many have become impatient in working for justice and peace, freedom and liberation. Let us choose to be patient and persevering in our struggle for freedom and liberation.

St. Paul advises us as he did the Galatians, “Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9)…Be patient!

St. James advises us as he did the early Christians. “Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. … (James 5:7-12)

St. Francis De Sales advises us…..

Be patient with everyone but especially with yourself; I mean that you should not be troubled about your imperfections and that you should always have courage to pick yourself up afterwards. There is no better way of getting there in the end in the spiritual life than always starting all over again and never thinking that you have done enough.

Patience is a way of being present on our journey. It is the state of endurance under difficult circumstances. It is perseverance in the face of delay. It is being focused and staying on the task in adverse conditions, without acting on annoyance/anger in a negative way. It is forbearance under strain, especially, when faced with long-term difficulties. It is self-discipline and self-control. Patience is the quality of being steadfast, firm and persevering in purpose.

Be Patient and persevering when you are called upon to bear with rejection and to give up your own comfort and bring comfort to others….

Be Patient and persevering when you are called upon to bear with being let down or put down and reach out to lift others who are let down or put down….

Be Patient and persevering when you see injustice done to yourself or others, bear with the pain that comes with it without rebellion or resentment rising up within your heart and continue to fulfill your calling….

Full of life and energy or tired and weary, let us choose to be faithful. Let us strive to be true to ourselves, to be authentic in all we say and do, to be men and women of integrity, to be steadfast in living our faith and in loving our God and giving ourselves generously to one another in love and service. Let us strive for justice and peace, freedom and liberation for all. Above all let us strive to be at peace, just in our ways and patient in our struggles.

Fr. Gus Tharappel, msfs