Freedom, Commitment, Fidelity
50th Wedding Anniversary of Joe and Pat McGreevy
St. Paul speaks today in the second reading about freedom. Perhaps no other value expresses better the core element of what it means to be American. But what do we really mean by freedom? Today, we tend to think that freedom means being able to do whatever you want, whenever you want, and no one can stop you. We also value freedom as “keeping all our options open.” St. Paul, and the Church, have a different view of freedom in mind. Freedom should be seen as the ability to be who you were created to be. Our freedom is a gift to be used in such a way that we make ourselves a gift to others. When we discover how we are to make this gift we are called to use our freedom to make a commitment.
If freedom is seen as “keeping all your options open” then commitment would seem to be the opposite of freedom. After all, doesn’t making a commitment limit one’s freedom? While committing to something will necessarily close the door to certain other options, it is actually through making a commitment that we become most free. A life that is lived with “all options open” is a wasted life. When you make a commitment, especially the commitment of your life as in marriage or religious life, then and only then can you become who you were created to be. Then you find a new freedom that you never knew before.
After a commitment is made, there can be only one course of action…fidelity. If you think about it, we wouldn’t need to have solemn public commitments in marriage if it were easy to stay married. We wouldn’t need sacred vows in religious life if everyone who became a priest or religious just naturally went on without any temptations to think that maybe the grass was greener somewhere else. It is precisely because of the great difficulty in living out our vocations that we need commitment. If the only thing that keeps you coming to Mass every Sunday at times is that you know you have a commitment on pain of mortal sin, well…good! That’s what the commitment is there for…to get you through the tough times.
This weekend we celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of Joe and Pat McGreevy. We celebrate the commitment they made 50 years ago and have been living out in fidelity ever since. It has of course not always been easy, and that is precisely why the joy of celebration today is so special. They’ve remained faithful to their commitment through good and bad times, just as they promised each other. What is the result? Joy and peace…and life. Just look at the family that they have around them and you can see the fruit of a commitment faithfully lived. We thank them for their faithfulness and witness and ask God to strengthen all of us in our commitments that we too may know this great peace and joy.