The price of freedom

1 Jul

It’s a lovely scene – dry leaves announcing winter, but stubborn green reminding of summer past and spring to come. You are immersed in such beauty. It speaks to you – a message beyond words. It’s spiritual. You feel connected. You feel a kinship with the trees, the fallen leaves and the promising green. You rejoice in the beauty of nature, in its sublime message of Something or Someone Other. You sense a certain personal dignity, a deeply rooted freedom – in your very nature, in your heart of hearts. But you know freedom isn’t free. What price freedom – and what really is freedom?

My last blog, “Freedom is not free,” treated the current threat to religious freedom in our nation.

Here we consider a freedom far more fundamental and inherent in human nature. A human has dignity and freedom by nature. We speak of the freedom of soul – that deeply rooted sense of personal worth, strength and dignity. It’s a spiritual freedom – and it’s found only in truth. Holy Scripture insists that the truth will set you free (1)  and that trust will bring understanding of truth (2).

I don’t want to echo Pontius Pilate at the bogus trial of Jesus, but, indeed, what is truth (3)?

 Surely, what the Scriptures reveal is God’s Word and will and what the Church teaches in matters of faith and morals is truth. Knowing and believing in these truths bring us closer to God. But believing in doctrine and spiritual discipline still leaves us short of knowing Truth.

Jesus said unequivocally, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except though me” (4).  He is one with the Father and the Spirit. If he is Truth then he is one Truth with the Father and the Spirit.

• To begin to understand and live the Truth that is God, the believer must delve into the depth of the Holy Trinity and the Sacraments that propel us into the essence of Divinity.

• We’ve all heard that God comes to us in the sacraments, but more to the point, in the sacraments God draws us into himself –into the great eternal intimacy that is love, into a life so full and complete we can’t begin to imagine what it is really like. But, Scripture tells us that in the full revelation of God in heaven, “we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure, as he is pure” (5).

• Yes, into himself. In baptism you go into God; you become one with Jesus Christ; you become “christified” (6). You can, with the sincerity and truth of Jesus call God Father, Abba. Being the Body of Christ is not mere rhetoric or poetry. It is real. By the grace of salvation and sanctification, we become Christ and together we share his mission of salvation.

• Hard to believe? Yes, it is – but only because we choose to keep God at a “safe” distance, way out or up there, an unreachable Divinity who has no commonality with us. Alas! Jesus shrunk that distance into nothing; Jesus in becoming one of us brought God and us into intimate union.

This is the foundational freedom – the freedom of Sons and Daughters of God, the freedom of holiness, kinship with God, partakers of his very divine life and disciples commissioned by Christ to bring the message of salvation, of God’s gratuitous love and his mercy to all peoples in all ages throughout the world.

If we don’t buy into this Truth, we will never be able adequately to define, embrace and defend our God-given rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution – a document founded on faith in God and belief in human dignity and freedom.

________________________________

1. Jn 18:32; 2 Cor 17-18
2. Wis 3:9
3. Jn 18:38
4. Jn 14:6
 5. 1 Jn 3:2b-3

6.  Fr. David Knight, “Five Steps to the Father,” Abbey Press, Page 8

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