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20th December: Don't Fence Me In

He who loses his life for my sake will find it. Mt 10:39

Most people hate to have their style cramped. It goes right against human nature. A popular song of a few years ago had the recurring refrain `Don't fence me in'. It had no great merit as a song, but doubtless the thought in it appealed to people. Nobody wants to be fenced in.

Yet no one with a serious job to learn would imagine that training was possible without some surrender of freedom. Medical students know they must discipline themselves to observe and think and study. Young doctors in hospital know they must discipline themselves to work and to go on learning. And so it continues through the years of medical life. The going can be tough, but the result is worth the effort. We must give before we can receive.

This is a basic principle of Nature. Jesus Christ said: `Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies , it bears much fruit' (Jn 12:24).

This is the secret that brings life. The abundant life that Jesus Christ speaks of comes only when we surrender our pride to him and admit that his sacrifice for us, not our goodness, fits us for God's presence.

This is the way of living. The Christian who clings to `freedom', the right to live his own life, does so to his own loss. He has not yet learned that it is only those who, with the apostle Paul, rejoice to be the bond-slaves of Christ, who at the same time come to know the glorious liberty of the children of God.

This is God's own way. The Almighty Father gave his only begotten Son to be the propitiation for our sins. The Eternal Son accepted the limitations of our human nature and gave his life to redeem us. The Holy Spirit comes and dwells among us, so that with graciousness and patience he may turn us from stupidity and waywardness to life and joy and peace.

`Don't fence me in' is the natural cry of the rebellious human heart. It is not God's way. We need then to remember that a `a servant is not greater than his master' (Jn 13:16).

Lord, help me to know and accept the truth that your service is perfect freedom.

Further reading: Mt 10:34-39. Jn 12:20-26.

RRW

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