Freedom – Fr. Viet Nguyen

Fr. Viet Nguyen’s Homily December 20, 2020

“This time of pandemic I’ve been watching a lot more movies than I usually do. I don’t know if you’re doing the same, but one of these old movies that I love to watch, it’s been a classic of mine, is Braveheart. Who here has seen Braveheart? Raise your hand, so a good amount. Probably half. Now Braveheart is by Mel Gibson and one of the things that always stood out to me is the very end, as he is dying, being tortured, he screams out ‘freedom!’ That always touches my heart, that scene, freedom. In this fight of external forces in battling against it and he didn’t stop after the betrayal of a friend or physical torture, he kept to it. He was free to choose what he wanted to do and to stand up for freedom despite anything. Freedom. In our country I think that’s one of the main things is to be free. Freedom. We’re the land of the free, but are we really free? Right now we might be free physically, but are you free mentally or spiritually? I find time during this pandemic where the spiritual forces are more against us than the physical ones where we’re not free to choose, to truly choose what we want to do. We’re enslaved or bound by our fears of the future, of the stock market or the virus or we’re enslaved by what other people are thinking. To be free to choose is something that we all yearn for, but do we really have it? 

In today’s Gospel Mary shows us true freedom to choose. The angel Gabriel came to Mary and said, ‘Hail full of grace. You are blessed. The Lord is with you.’ And then it tells Mary, Mary is this 15 year old girl, that she will conceive a child and this child will save the world. Now can you imagine that happening to you? All the thoughts you would have, but Mary was free to choose to let go of her own will and also to surrender her own will to God, to kind of surrender to God’s will. Oftentimes we hear that a lot, ‘Do the will of God. Surrender the will of God.’ but there’s always a resistance isn’t there? Because maybe what God wants isn’t what we want. We want to do this and we know God’s will is somewhere over here, but the thing is that God’s will for us is truly our will whether we know it or not. Mary who was conceived without sin was free to surrender her life to God’s will, to say yes without being bound by all the other things. In this day and age, if God came to me and said that to me I would think, ‘Well what would Joseph think that now I’m pregnant, but it’s not his child?’ That would cause some conversations that I wouldn’t want to have. Looking at the future, it caused the massacre of the innocents. I don’t want to be the cause of that, the massacre of the innocents. Now that I’m conceived with this child, I’m going to have to leave to Egypt on this long journey. I’m gonna have to leave for a long time. How will I do that? How will we get there? All these things we see as practicality, but really it’s just our fear, our fear of the future, surrendering to God’s will. Are you free to choose what you really want to do in your life, the true desires of your life or are you bound by your sins? Are you bound by your fears, your anxieties, the pressures of others, the pressures outside of you? Are you really free?

This fourth week of Advent, again a time of waiting, preparing for the savior, I always start by- to prepare for a savior we have to realize that we need a savior. It’s acknowledging how that we’re not truly free to choose in our life that we’re bound by our sins, our addictions, our desires, our fears that we really realize we need a savior and that’s the perfect place to bee in this fourth week of Advent to first acknowledge our will, our desires and then surrender them to God, to put them in the place of God and to ask him to help us to understand to accept and in doing that our hearts will soon open to receive the grace of God more fully in our lives. Our eyes will open to see more clearly more than our own ego can see. So as you come before the Lord today where Christ is truly present for you in the Eucharist, let us continue to ask the Lord for the strength and the courage to see in our lives where we’re not truly free to choose whether we’re bound by our insecurities, our fears, our anxieties, our addictions, acknowledge that to the Lord so that we can be prepared to receive Him when He comes. Amen.”