• Steven Marsh

Religious Freedom: a Reflection on Psalm 43, Isaiah 45:18-25, Ephesians 6:1-9, and Mark 4:35-41

I love Pope Francis. He afflicts the comfortable and comforts the afflicted. At a recent gathering of Cardinals, he chastised them for losing their calling, having become comfortable with the bureaucracy. The Pope has given voice to the poor a practice not foreign to him. He has made the marginalized his family. No fancy “Pope Apartment” for Francis. He eats with the staff and serves the Eucharist to the homeless and imprisoned.

The jury is out on Pope Francis. It’s beyond me, however. The Pope reminds me of Jesus and that is empowering.

The psalmist asks, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me?” Why do I become downcast and disquieted? I’m sure for a variety of reasons, but perhaps most importantly due to my losing the way when it comes to the voiceless. I’m a Cardinal who’s become too professional.

God always speaks the truth, I hear it in the Word and through colleagues, friends, and those I meet on the street. There can be no sugar coating. Jesus is a servant, not a prince. Servant leadership lifts up, but it is honest.

Relationships really do matter. Spouse to spouse. Friend to friend. Colleague to colleague. We are created in the image of God and we should treat each other from that perspective.

The storms of life are many. Jesus calms them. We simply need to look to him. Jesus levels the playing field and confronts us with truth. Jesus leads with the cross. It is the cross we must pick up. Can we say “yes” anew today?

It is true that we live in a hostile culture toward Christians. And it is increasingly difficult to have the same freedom in the gospel that we had ten years ago. Yet, the opportunities to share good news abound.

There is religious freedom. It has a cost. And the cost is requisite to carrying the cross. We can do that.

Scripture readings are taken from the two-year daily lectionary cycle which follows the liturgical calendar and begins on the First Sunday of Advent.

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