How much consolation can we feel in the certainty of having been freed? There is no man or woman who does not desire freedom and who would not rebel as soon as he or she is clearly aware that someone is depriving him or her of this precious gift of being free.
But right here we are faced with the real question: do we still know and understand today what it means to be free? Do we still realize what and how many plots are hatched against freedom, albeit disguised as “rights”, legitimate expectations and rules to protect our presumed well-being? Today, do we still have a clear idea of freedom and its opposite concept, slavery? Pope Francis reminds us in Laudato Si’, there is a trend in today’s society towards a mechanistic and deconstructive ideology of progress and freedom. Our planet is being damaged almost beyond repair and this has its foundation in “the notion that there are no indisputable truths to guide our lives, and hence human freedom is limitless.”
This is not the space for a philosophical discussion. Rather, let us allow ourselves to be led by the Word of God in search of some fixed points. Let us welcome a kindly light that allows us to unmask the darkness in which we are too often enveloped.
The Apostle is very precise and reminds his readers that Christ has freed us ... for freedom!
First of all, Christ is the author of liberation. Therefore it is necessary to learn from the Lord Jesus Himself what freedom is and from what He has freed us. We have been freed from the imprisonment of sin, from the presumption of replacing God, from pursuing passions and opinions, to know and serve the real Truth.
In a word, we have been freed from death: and not only, or simply, from physical death. We have been freed from death caused by sin, which is a break in communion with God. We have been torn from the deadly taste of loneliness, caused by rivalry, envy and hatred. Freed from the mortal anguish of not identifying the real goodness in life and the complete sense of existence, because we are or have been prisoners of an illusory, historical and worldly perspective.
Set yourself Free!…. for Freedom’s sake!
Let us seek freedom that has the features of faith , as a radical, trusting and obedient abandonment to the Holy Will of God and to the Truth in Jesus Himself. Freedom that has the fragrant taste of charity/love , interpreting our existence as an offering of our whole self to God incorporated in a free service of love to our brothers and sisters. “Faith does not limit the horizons of our knowing, our living or our freedom, but expands them. It not only bestows upon us a responsibility for the world in which we live and create — the world who is my neighbour — but it gives us joy in the work of serving this world and all the life that it contains” (cf. Fratelli Tutti).
This true and lasting freedom offers the great gift of hope : it supports us in our daily toil, opening the horizons of Eternal Life. This is the freedom that the Lord Jesus has obtained for us at a high price on the Cross and that He offers to us gratuitously as our inheritance.
In the intricate maze of human events and passions that lodge themselves and wage war in the heart of every person, only the light of the Truth which comes from our Lord Jesus can indicate the Way that leads to life, to true liberty. This is why it is urgent to repeat the words of the Gospel acclamation: “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening to you: you have the words of eternal life”.
The only true freedom is “making a firm decision to set out for Jerusalem”, with Him and beside Him, where the Cross awaits Him and awaits us too: without restraints, without hesitation, whatsoever the cost, resolute just like Him, in carrying out the Will of our heavenly Father.
* Custody of the Holy Land
By Fr John Luke Gregory ofm*