Wednesday

What is freedom? What does it mean to you?



By Paul Dion, STL

FREEDOM
FREEDOM
FREEDOM
FREEDOM...

Ah, yes, FREEDOM! Let me count the ways. We talk so much about freedom in this country of ours. We sing it in our Anthem, ..."the land of the free and the home of the brave." When we look around we see hundreds of people who have come here from other shores in search of freedom.

In the same sweep of our eyes and our minds we also see hundreds in hospitals, jails, jobs that they hate and in oppresive human relationships. We see people in addictions that ruin their lives and we see people who seem to be happy and free, until we talk to them for 10 minutes in the supermarket line and discover that they too are suffering in captivity.

Listen to the readings of this Sunday, July 8 and you will experience the joy of the freedom that Jesus gave to His disciples as He sent them forth. You can also read the wonderful passage in John's gospel, chapter 8, verses 30 to the end of the chapter. It starts with the wonderful lesson, "I am the truth and when you know the truth, the truth will set you free..."

During this season of Independence, ParishWorld.net encourages everybody to ponder the meaning of freedom. Seek the truth that sets us free, pray over it and express it in a personal definition to share with other readers of ParishWorld.net by answering the following question:

WHAT IS FREEDOM? WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU?

God bless you. We'll talk more about freedom later in the week.

3 comments:

  1. Dennis Sheahan9:59 AM

    I remember a collect that addresses "Almighty God, whose service is perfect freedom". I can't find it to cite or check but I'm sure I have the gist of it right.
    Gode made us to love and serve Him.
    Love cannot be coerced.
    Ergo, freedom of will is necessary for us to fulfill our purpose.
    The best uuse of any tool or attribute is to use for that task for which it was designed.
    Our freedom of will is designed to allow us to choose, as an act of love, to serve God.
    Therefore, our freedom is best used in God's service.
    We can best(?) manifest this service by seeking and serving Christ in all persons.
    "He who loves his fellowman, has fulfilled the Law."
    "Anyone who says, 'I love God' yet hates his brother, is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen."
    God wants our love which must be freely given and in fact is the only thing we have which was not made entirely without our help. We get to give love for love. The fact that we are able to love only because He first loved us, does not diminish the gift we offer when we choose freely to love God and manifest that love in sevice.

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  2. Dennis Sheahan10:00 AM

    Alas! My memory is better than my research skill. I remember a collect that adresses; "Almighty God, whose service is perfect freedom." I can't find it in any of the books I have on hand so as to cite, or quote, more accuratly or completely, but I'm sure I havt the gist of right.
    God has given us free will and requires us to choose between alternatives. The best use of that freedom is always to choose the better path. therefore the best use of our freedom is to choose God's will for us. That is so because God desires that we be happy and joyous as well as free. He made us free we get to make ourselves happy and joyous by seeking and doing His will and accepting His love which, as the parayers at the foot of the altar used to say "gives joy to my youth".

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  3. Paul Dion, STL10:20 PM

    Freedom:
    Just what is it?
    "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32).

    Freedom is security of mind. Freedom is the assurance that knowledge cannot be successfully challenged. Freedom is strength because the truth can be nothing but the truth. That is why Jesus is not afraid to say that to know
    Him is to be free. Here are some ideas of what that means.
    Human beings are free moral agents. That means that we are free to choose between good and evil. It doesn't
    mean that we can do whatever we please. It means that we exercise the strength of Truth within the boundaries of
    good and evil. It means that we know that evil is not truth. It means that we know that evil weakens us and
    that good strengthens us. It means that we accept that freedom has its bounds. The first example we have of that is the story of Adam and Eve. Had Adam and Eve accepted that God was truth itself, they would have had the strength to choose to obey the command of God rather than the enticements of the serpent.

    This description of freedom is not reserved to the Bible. It is a rule of the natural law lived by human beings.

    The motto of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, for instance, is "Ense petit placidam sub libertate quietem"
    which translates from the Latin to "By the sword we seek peace, but peace in liberty." It is therefore essential
    to the definition of freedom that rules and regulations are part of it. It is accepted that freedom without boundaries doesn't exist. Freedom without a choice for love and for the good does not exist. In some ways, even slavery can be a form of freedom. Not a very good one, but freedom nonetheless.

    In the Bible we are often confronted by the freedom from slavery, usually following a military loss. We see the
    emancipation of the Hebrew People from Egypt and from Babylonia. We see the spiritual liberation from the Greek
    influence as narrated to us in the books of the Maccabees. The Greeks had taken away the sacredness of the Temple by making it a gymnasium and running around in it naked. God gave the Maccabees victory and the temple was re-consecrated and freedom was restored. The people of God had regained the freedom to choose the spiritual good
    again without recrimination.

    The Chosen People were living in this freedom when Jesus came on the scene. His Mission was to free His People from the Law. It was His Mission to bring the new covenant of love to His People. His first lesson to them was the way He defeated Satan in the desert. Three times He chose quotes from the Law to silence His aggressor.

    Three times He showed us how Eve could have run back to her love for His Father to defeat the vile serpent. It is in these examples that we understand that the freedom from slavery, physical and/or moral is required so that we as creatures of God can exercise the freedom to choose the good.

    We citizens of the United States like to call ourselves free. We are not the only people in the world who are free. There are many countries in the world where the citizens are free. There are even kingdoms and empires in the world where the citizens are free. Just because a country is governed by a dictator or a king doesn't take away the total freedom of the people. Similarly, just because a country is governed as a democracy, that doesn't mean that the citizens of that country are totally free. True freedom, religious or otherwise is the degree of truth that exists between the leader of the community and the members of the community. That is why true freedom comes from God because the greatest degree of truth that exists in people is between them and God. Since God is the perfect good, He is also the perfect Truth. Thanks to His love for us and the ultimate sacrifice of His Son, we can live in the freedom of the truth, choosing the good every moment of every day of our lives. Jesus showed us how to do it. Jesus showed us the reward that awaits those who follow Him on the path of that sacrifice. Let me ask you, "what's to cry about that?"

    Paul Dion, STL
    Theology Editor
    ParishWorld.net

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