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Thursday, November 16, 2000

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St. Margaret of Scotland
St. Gertrude

Philemon 7-20
Psalm 146
Luke 17:20-25

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wonderful, terrifying freedom

"Although I feel that I have every right to command you to do what ought to be done, I prefer to appeal in the name of love." —Philemon 8-9<br>"I did not want to do anything without your consent, that kindness might not be forced on you but might be freely bestowed." —Philemon 14

Paul in his letter to Philemon states two basic principles concerning how the Lord works. First, the Lord commands us to do a few things, but in most things He appeals to us "in the name of love" (Phlm 9). For example, the Lord commands us through His Church to assist at Mass every Sunday and holy day of obligation. However, regarding all other Masses, the Lord appeals to us "in the name of love" to receive His body and blood. The Lord calls us to observe not only the letter of the law but also its spirit, for "the written law kills, but the Spirit gives life" (2 Cor 3:6).

Second, the Lord wants to do innumerable great things in our lives, but many of these things He will not do without our consent so that His kindness may not be forced on us (see Phlm 14). Consequently, by abusing our freedom, we can deprive ourselves of receiving God's greatest acts of love toward us.

Because God is Love (1 Jn 4:8, 16), we are free. Without freedom, there can be no love. Freedom is both wonderful and terrifying. In freedom, we can go beyond the minimum and live in maximum love. In abusing our freedom, we can reject God's plan for our lives (see Lk 7:30) and deprive ourselves to the point that we can even go to hell. Let Jesus, the Truth (Jn 14:6) and Love, free you (see Jn 8:32).

Prayer:  Father, I freely choose to give You all and to love You.

Promise:  "The Son of Man in His day will be like the lightning that flashes from one end of the sky to the other." —Lk 17:24

Praise:  Though living two very different vocations, one as a mother of eight children and the other as a Benedictine nun, Sts. Margaret and Gertrude both laid down their lives for Love.

Nihil Obstat:  Reverend Ralph J. Lawrence, April 24, 2000

Imprimatur:  †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, April 27, 2000