What is true freedom about? We need only to look at the Scriptures to see it spelled out, and we see that it clearly is about living our lives in truth, from the heart!
In Deuteronomy 18.15-20 we hear Moses as he speaks of the responsibility of a prophet to speak God’s truth, and also the responsibility of the listener, that they will be held accountable to live out in action what they hear.
Paul’s words, to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 7.32-35), tie in very closely to this, as he urges them to have “unhindered devotion to the Lord”, that they may be free from the aniety of the world; that a devotion to the Lord would lead them to true freedom to follow His ways.
And then, what a powerful image we see in the Gospel, Mark 1.21-28; while teaching in the synagogue Jesus casts out a demon from the man and calls this man to freedom, through His name. Imagine how this man may have felt. He had been tormented by an evil presence, perhaps for years. Maybe you have had a similar experience, or maybe someone close to you has/is experiencing this, maybe not in such an intense way, but something that was/is holding it’s grip, hindering peace and joy. Perhaps while this man was listening to Jesus in the synagogue he felt the agitation of the evil spirit within himself. Perhaps he could sense that the demon felt threatened. Perhaps he moved closer to the Lord, drawn by a mysterious subconscious hope. Suddenly the spirit exerts itself, taking over control of the man’s body. With a mere word Jesus silences him, and orders him to depart. The man is thrown to the ground in a fit of fury, and then silence. Peace. Could he believe it? He opens his eyes and knows that he is now himself again. His eyes meet Christ’s… what gratitude fills his heart. What love and gladness he finds in the glance of Jesus!*
Jesus Christ came to bring new life and new hope to every human heart, and he rejoices whenever we move towards Him and let Him have His way.
Whenever I think of the word ‘freedom’ I always think of the line from the movie Braveheart. There is a speech given by the warrior-leader William Wallace to his rag-tag army of Scottish rebels as they are lined up to fight the vast army of England for their country (quoted in part):
“Every man dies, not every man really lives… Would you be willing to trade all the days… for just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take… our FREEDOM.”
This is a powerful scene. You see someone passionate and speaking with conviction, willing to put his words into action. This is how I envisioned Jesus in this scripture passage, as he “speaks with authority”, casting out the demon from this man. Freedom for us, as believers in God, is unique. Jesus tells us in John 8, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church, in defining freedom, gives somewhat of a mouthful of a definition, but it is an important definition: “Freedom is the power rooted in reason and will to act or not to act, to do this or that, and so to perform some deliberate actions on one’s own responsibility… Human freedom…attains to perfection when directed toward God, our beatitude.” CCC 1731
So the way we truly become free is in living our lives in the truth (of God), so that we choose the good. The way that we most fully become human is to always choose God, our creator, and His ways. When we fail to choose the good we become slaves, held in the bondage of evil and/or sin.
In our world today there is a real misunderstanding of freedom. How crucial it is for us, as followers and believers in Christ, to be living witnesses to freedom. So (as we come to this celebration of God’s love for us, to be fed with His life and truth), let us take to heart these readings from Scripture and their wisdom for us. Let us reflect upon how we are called to be faithful disciples. Jesus has revealed to you and to me what it means to be free. He shows us what it means to do the will of the Father and we are called to imitate His discipleship and walk in the same freedom. Let us also reflect on this connection we see between freedom and truth, between freedom and holiness, between freedom and discipleship. And as we take this truth into our heart we pray that the wisdom, the power, and the love of God and His son, would draw us in and transform us from within to be His true disciples each and every day; to live in FREEDOM!
* Italics in this particular paragraph taken, in part, from “The Better Part”, by John Bartunek, pg 350.