OF COURSE, we can find true freedom only in Christ. He said so in very explicit terms. “If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (Jn 8,31-32)
We have to remember that freedom is not something that we ourselves created and give to ourselves. It is first of all a gift from God, and as such it can only be properly exercised when referred to God’s will and ways, as shown and shared with us by Christ himself, the God-made-man to offer us “the way, the truth and the life” proper to us.
We have to be most guarded against our strong tendency to regard freedom as something purely at the instance of our own will alone. For our freedom to be true freedom, or freedom in the truth, our will has to conform with the will of God.
Here, we can already see how important it is to know, love and live that will of God, regardless of how difficult that duty involves. We have to understand that the exercise of freedom should be always an occasion to be with God. Otherwise, we would at best have a fake kind of freedom.
We need to understand this truth of our faith well, because nowadays it is very easy to be confused about where to find freedom and how freedom should be. That’s because all sorts of ideas promoted by all kinds of ideologies and spread by powerful groups have been flooding the world since time immemorial.
Nowadays, freedom is mainly understood as the power to do whatever a person or a group would like to do. It is purely a subjective freedom, based only on one’s conception of it or on the consensus of a certain group.
There is also the erroneous idea that freedom is anything that gives one some pleasure, some convenience, some advantage, etc. Again it is an idea of freedom that is self-oriented, not other-oriented, which is how it should be, since freedom is a matter of loving, and loving is self-giving, not self-serving.
Because of these confusing if not erroneous ideas, the sacrifices involved in loving the way Christ has loved us—Christ who is the standard of love and freedom—turn off many people who cannot accept the freedom offered to us by Christ. After all, Christ himself said that if we want to follow him, we have to deny ourselves and carry the cross. (cfr. Mt 16,24)
We need to promote the real freedom that is offered to us by Christ. We have to preach about it, in season and out of season, and explain it thoroughly, using arguments that are adapted to the different mentalities and cultures of the people.
Our problem in this regard is usually that of being ineffective in our preaching because we use complex or subtle arguments, examples, etc., that are above people’s head. This is not to mention the fact that many times people find inconsistency in what we preach and in what we do. We often do not walk the talk. How important, therefore, it is to have a clear idea of the relationship between God and freedom, and between freedom and love. Given our very confusing times, when the distinction between truth and falsehood, good and evil, moral and immoral is blurred, it’s very urgent that we get hold of this distinction, if we wish to be on the right track in our life! By Fr. Roy Cimagala (EV Mail March 27-April 2, 2023 issue)