I know I have written of this before, but it is one of those things that bears repeating; there is a difference between true freedom and license. Our world really is unable to see that difference and they use these terms interchangeably.
The readings today are all about true freedom; the ability to do what is right, to do as God wants not as we want. Now hopefully as we travel on our spiritual journey, we get closer to that point of wanting what God wants.
St Paul in his letter to the Galations (Gal. 5:1, 13~18) gives us the no nonsense explanation of this when he tells us that the Spirit and the flesh are always opposed to each other, but we are to live in the Spirit. I know in my own life this tug of war goes on constantly~sometimes it is subtle, and at other times both sides are pulling like crazy.
The example of true freedom is shown perfectly by Jesus in today's Gospel. (Luke 9: 51~62) We hear that Jesus "resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem." He went freely to the cross awaiting Him there. He knew this was His Father's will and His will was always that of His Father's.
Me, well more often than not, I tend to be like the people Jesus met along the way. I have a list of "but firsts" before I can surrender everything to what God wants of me. It all goes back to that tug of war between my Spirit and my flesh. However, the more I come to understand what true freedom really is, the more often the Spirit in me wins that nasty little game. The sacraments give me and my Spirit the edge in this battle.
When the Apostles were called by Jesus, they didn't give Him a list of what but firsts, they dropped everything, left everything and followed Him.
Jesus is leading us on the road to the heavenly Jerusalem. He will not wait for me to complete my "but firsts". I have the freedom to join Him and follow Him resolutely; I have the freedom to choose life with Him. Jesus won that freedom for us by His steadfastness to the Father's will. Let us renew our determination to live freely in the Spirit with no ifs, ands or but firsts.