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Memorial of Saint Athanasius, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

Scriptural Readings: Acts 5:27-33; Psalm 34:2+9, 17-18, 19-20; John 3:31-36

My dear encountered couple:

Nobody likes an ultimatum. Nobody enjoys being told what to do. We are free people, living in a free country. Don’t give me any orders. As long as we don’t step on anybody else’s toes, as long as we don’t interfere with anybody else’s rights we can do what we want, can’t we? God gave us freedom; the constitution guarantees us we can use it.

But what if there are things that are not hurting anybody else but which can hurt ourselves. Eating or drinking certain foods might not be interfering with the rights of anyone else, but they might not be good for us - like toadstools? I sure would like someone to knock it out of my hand if I start putting one in my mouth. We might grow our own plants and make our own drugs; we might have our stills in the hills for our own private consumption. But if it’s going to kill me or make me blind, I sure would like somebody to stop me.

There are definitely ways we can hurt our own bodies while not hurting other people. There are also ways we can harm our own souls without injuring the souls of others. Wouldn’t you like to know what those things are? I would.

Jesus never demands belief or a course of action just to be arbitrary. He does so only because of his great love for us. And so, he wants us to pay attention to what he said to Nicodemus:

“Whoever believes in the Son has life eternal. Whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but must endure the wrath of God.”

Yes, we are free, we have rights - even the right not to listen to someone who loves us more than we love ourselves.


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