13th Sunday in Ordinary Time


By Tina Sibbald

Sometimes a lesson is difficult to learn, until it suddenly isn’t. Has your Doctor ever advised you to lose weight, or adjust your diet for health reasons? If you are anything like me, being told you couldn’t have – say – poutine makes you want it even more. You abstain, but the resentment grows and you crave poutine. All you can think about is poutine. You may even break down and say “well it’s just this once” and actually order poutine, hoping that no one who knows you walks by that great poutine place on Queen Street and sees you scarfing it down as if it were your last meal. On the other hand, suppose you had a health scare, like a heart attack*.

Now you understand that it could mean the difference between life and death if you don’t stop eating unhealthy food. So you stop. You follow the letter of the law. It is not always easy but you know it is the only way to guarantee your survival. Then one day, out of the blue, you wake up suddenly feeling better than you have felt for a long time. You realize “this is amazing, I feel fabulous! Eating healthy is for me!” All at once, not only have you stopped craving junk food, it actually repulses you and you cannot begin to imagine how you ever could have liked it in the first place. How amazing is that freedom from the slavery of junk food when you know it leads to a long, healthy life and allows you to engage in healthy activities that were once more difficult?

Jesus died for us that we might have freedom. At the same time, there are rules and laws, which we must follow, and it is not always easy to ignore our desires – the things we want because we think they make US feel good. It is God’s intention for us to ignore the desires of the flesh and be servants to others. Herein lies what we might see as a conundrum: do we concentrate on the rules – the “thou shalt not’s” or do we concentrate on the gift of freedom purchased with Christ’s own blood? A list of rules is absolute – easy to understand but not always easy to follow. Christ’s blood, shed for us, is less easy to understand. This gift cannot be evaluated within the confines of human reason, yet it gives us freedom from the bondage of rules and laws. However, each of us must train our own conscience to fall back on this gift.

When we stop obsessing over what we are “not allowed” to do, and concentrate on a relationship with God, we will start to realize how spiritually healthy our lives become, and chances are, the cravings will ease for all the junk in our lives that ultimately makes us so unhappy. Sometimes a lesson is difficult to learn, until suddenly it isn’t, because we leaned on God’s mercy. The brilliance from that light bulb moment makes me want to fall to my knees and adore Him.

*My fifth life-saving heart procedure in 10 years took place one week ago. It saved not only my heart, but also my soul. Thanks be to God!

Sunday’s Readings:

1 Kings 19.16b, 19-21

Galatians 5.1, 13-18

Luke 9.51-62