“For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” - Galatians 5:1
The experience of freedom is a great joy in life. We humans have received this wonderful gift from our Creator; the ability to make choices and participate in His plan of sheer goodness. However, we’re reminded frequently of our now wounded nature. We struggle to use our powers in a way which glorifies God and brings us lasting happiness. Our faith gives us insight into the origin of this woundedness, whereby our first parents were tempted and abused their freedom. This decision had dramatic consequences on all of us descendants.
Thankfully, that wasn’t the end of our story. As St. Paul wrote, in the fullness of time God sent His Son to save us from our sins and adopt us as His children (Gal. 4). This is a free offering which can still be rejected. The Lord respects our freedom and doesn’t force us to accept this relationship. But as a good Father does, He pursues us before we ask, sensing when we need help. Like He did with Adam and Eve, God desires to bring us out of hiding and guide us through life’s struggles.
Freedom Isn’t Free
The last line of the Star-Spangled Banner reads: “O’er the land of the free and home of the brave.” It is meant to especially honor all those who serve in the military, protecting our country from harm. Freedom in this country is possible because many people courageously give their lives in service. It “costs” something and is dependent upon sacrifice. This type of earthly/political freedom should not be taken for granted, as we continue to observe global conflicts, particularly in Ukraine.
By acknowledging this we can also recognize a different type of freedom: separation from sin. For Christians this means following Jesus. We believe He paid the ultimate price for our sins and became the sacrifice needed to reconcile us back to the Father. We could never have made that happen through our own actions. The freedom available in Christ can & should pour forth into all aspects of life (friendship, career, family, etc.).
However, because we are fallen human beings we are still inclined toward sin. These external battles remind us of the internal struggle each of us faces to use our freedom for good. Catholic tradition sometimes calls this freedom for excellence, the ability to act virtuously. It differs from the common notion of freedom, which is simply acting however one pleases. Jesus’ example shows us that real freedom demands sacrifice and happens only when we act for good.
During these days commemorating the Lord’s Passion, Death, and Resurrection we again have the opportunity to worship Christ and acknowledge what He has won for us. Salvation and eternal life are freely offered to all who repent and believe in the Gospel. There are certain commandments and obligations that come with the life of faith; however, when viewed properly we see them as gifts rather than burdens. We can experience healing which makes us whole again. This is the Christian vision for freedom.
We must have a living relationship with our Creator through ongoing dialogue in prayer. Otherwise we are easily tempted away from responsibility and start to live in fallen ways again. Our Father wants us children to be free and has sent the Holy Spirit to renew us. “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Cor. 3:17). I pray we may be attentive to His promptings, whereby we can be truly liberated and experience the joy of Easter.