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FOR FREEDOM CHRIST HAS SET US FREE
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, ThD
Homily of Monday, 28th Week of the Year, October 15, 2012
Gal. 4:22-24, 26-27, 31-5:1, Ps. 112, Luke 11:29-32


"For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery" (Gal. 5:1).


St. Paul is here preaching the gospel of Christian liberty, freedom from the slavery of sin and from the slavery of the law. He who lives in sin is the slave of sin and is not free. But one who believes in Christ is freed from the slavery of sin, and of death, which is the punishment for sin. He is also freed from the slavery of the law. A slave of the law is someone who believes that he has to justify himself by his good works according to the law. Even though it is impossible to justify oneself by works of the law of God (Gal. 2:16), a person who is enslaved to the law keeps on trying to do so anyway. He never succeeds, of course, and so his spirit is enslaved. He always feels guilty and that he has an unpaid debt of punishment and guilt to work off and pay off by his good works, which he is never able to do. He is ignorant of the freedom of Christ to which we are called. "For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery" (Gal. 5:1). And the yoke of slavery is the yoke of the law. "You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace" (Gal. 5:4). "For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh" (Gal. 5:13). "But now we are discharged from the law, dead to that which held us captive, so that we serve not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit" (Rom. 7:6). It is only by faith that we are justified in Christ. This is a great liberation. We are freed from the slavery of the law, of having to try to justify ourselves by works.


Abraham had two wives, one a slave girl, the other a free woman. This is an allegory (Gal. 4:24). The Jews are like sons of the salve girl (Gal. 4:24-25) and are enslaved to the law. But those who believe in Christ are sons of the free woman and are free (Gal. 4:26). "So, brethren, we are not children of the salve but of the free woman. For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery" (Gal. 4:31-5:1).


We do not have to justify ourselves before God by our works according to the law of God. It is impossible to accomplish this, and those who try to do so are enslaved. They are not free. They do not know the freedom of the children of God. They are under the yoke of slavery, slavery to the law. But Christ has freed us from this slavery in which one is always living in guilt and fear, fear of death, fear of hell, fear of eternal punishment, because he knows that he still has not succeeded in justifying himself by his good works according to the law. He cannot get out of his guilt, because he is trying to do something that is impossible. No one can justify himself by works of the law (Rom. 3:20, 28; Gal. 2:16; Eph. 2:8-9). One is justified before God only through the death of Christ on the cross by faith in him. Only the merits of Christ's death justify a person.


Christ came to free us from this slavery of the law to walk in the freedom of the children of God. "For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery ... For you have been called to freedom, brethren" (Gal. 5:1, 13). But once justified by faith in Christ, we are to "walk by the Spirit" and "not gratify the desires of the flesh" (Gal. 5:16).

 

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