FREEDOM FOR LIFE IN THE SPIRIT – Third Sunday after Pentecost—Proper 8, Year C; Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C (RC)

June 26, 2022

Revised Common Lectionary
2 Kings 2:1-2, 6-14 or 1 Kings 19:15-16, 19-21
Psalm 77:1-2, 11-20 or Psalm 16
Galatians 5:1, 13-25
Luke 9:51-62


Lectionary for Mass (RC)
1 Kings 19:16b, 19-21
Psalm 16:1-2, 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11 (see 5a)
Galatians 5:1, 13-18
Luke 9:51-62

As both Canada and the United States celebrate their national holidays over the next couple of weeks, we will hear a lot about the importance of freedom in our own countries and elsewhere. Especially in Western liberal democracies like ours, liberty is regarded as a value to be treasured and safeguarded.

Today’s passage from Paul’s Letter to the Galatians likewise speaks of freedom, beginning with this bold assertion: “For freedom Christ has set us free” (Gal 5:1). That sounds a bit like a riddle, doesn’t it? A closer look, however, reveals that this short sentence gives expression to a profound truth.

Paul is actually making the important point that while we are no longer slaves to the Law, that’s just part of the story. True freedom means living and acting in Christ rather than out of concern for fulfilling legal regulations. And so, he writes to the Galatians, “do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence” (5:13). The liberty given by Christ is not expressed in doing whatever we want, whenever we want, however we want.

Christ has not only set us free from but has also given us freedom for. As we live in the Spirit, our actions are to be based on relationships rather than on precepts. We have been freed to love as Christ loved, by willingly pouring out our lives for others. Paul declares that “the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (5:14). Paradoxically, although we are no longer slaves to the Law, Paul urges his hearers “through love become slaves to one another” (5:13).

Living in freedom can be far more demanding than keeping the Law. Love requires self-sacrifice. To be free for life in the Spirit, we need to let go of self-absorption and desires that pull us away from love. Only then can we be completely free to love the other.

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus challenges his would-be disciples to this same spirit of self-emptying. Nothing can be more urgent or more important than following Jesus and joining him in the work of proclaiming God’s reign.

Are we ready to embrace Christ’s freedom to live in the Spirit? Do we value following Jesus more than anything? What do we need to let go of if we are to be truly free?

A Hymn for Today: “As the Wind Song”

This hymn is a marvelous example of intercultural collaboration in creating new songs for the church. It originated with a tune by Singaporean composer and scholar Lim Swee Hong, FHS, who sent it in 2004 to New Zealand hymn writer Shirley Erena Murray, FHS. She not only wrote this richly evocative text, but suggested the tune name WAIRUA TAPU, which means “Holy Spirit” in Maori. Her text was translated into Chinese the following year by Wong Ee Suen. To hear a recording of the hymn sung in Mandarin, click here.

While true freedom requires letting go, it also draws us into a wondrous and joyful life in the Spirit. Both the text and the tune of this hymn give expression to the wonders of life and power that are opened for us by the Holy Spirit.

As the wind song through the trees,
as the stirring of the breeze,
so it is with the Spirit of God,
as the heart made strangely warm,
as the voice within the storm,
so it is with the Spirit of God.
Never seen, ever known
where this wind has blown
bringing life, bringing power to the world.

As the rainbow after rain,
as the hope that’s born again,
so it is with the Spirit of God,
as the green in the spring,
as a kite on a string,
so it is with the Spirit of God,
making worlds that are new,
making peace come true,
bringing gifts, bringing love to the world.

Text: Shirley Erena Murray, 1931-2020, © Hope Publishing Company. Used by permission under OneLicense #A-729857
Tune: WAIRUA TAPU, Lim Swee Hong, b. 1963

Image Credit:

“Word and Song: A Lectionary Reflection” is written by the Executive Director of The Hymn Society, Rev. Dr. Mike McMahon. For his full bio, click here and scroll down to the “staff” section.

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