I begin with this question? How did the Crosiers come to Onamia and Wahkon and Hillman and McGrath and other parishes in this area? The answer is Napoleon. He tried to shut down and destroy every church, convent and monastery in Europe. He tried to wipe out all religion in Europe but he did not succeed.
In 1841 only four Crosiers remained but they were hopeful. Shortly thereafter their membership began to grow. In the late 1800s they came up with a radical plan. They decided to start monasteries in the Congo, Brazil, Indonesia and the United States. They decided that if a violent leader like Napoleon would take over in one country the Crosier Order would survive in the other countries. The Crosiers came to Onamia in 1910 and Indonesia in 1926.
At that point in history, Indonesia was a colony of the Dutch and that sets the stage for my next story.
About 100 years ago, a Dutch soldier was stationed in Indonesia and he bought a small monkey as a pet. After a few days he noticed that the monkey was sensitive around her waist. He saw that someone had placed a wire around her waist when the monkey was a baby. Using a tiny wire cutter, the soldier carefully cut the wire. The monkey began jumping and leaping for joy. She was free at last! Free from all the pain that the wire had caused her.
In today’s second reading, Paul is leaping for joy because his Savior has set him free from the burdens of his past. He was set free from the guilt that he carried for persecuting the church. And that should be our spirit on this freedom weekend. We have civic freedoms and spiritual freedoms. It is our time to celebrate our freedoms. It is time to celebrate our freedoms with joy. We would like to focus on our Christian freedoms.
The Four Gospels describe our Christian freedoms, the freedoms that we have in Christ. We are called to be free in the ways that Jesus was free. He was free to be faithful to God’s plan - and so are we. He was free to work for the common good - and so are we. Jesus was free to see God’s goodness in each person - and so are we. He was free to defend the rights of the weak and vulnerable people in society - and so are we. Jesus had so many freedoms. He was free to pray many times each day and free to include everyone in his circle of friendship; free to call people to accountability when they were hurting the community; and free to serve those who were suffering from poor health; and free to make friends with the outcasts of society.
The bottom line of today’s celebration and the bottom line of Jesus’ speech in today’s Gospel is one and the same: If we exercise our spiritual freedoms we shall be rewarded in this life and in the next.