Our ultimate freedom

- Fr. Roy Cimagala - The Freeman

We have to understand this very well. We have been regaled through the years with all sorts of ideas and definitions of freedom. Nowadays, there even are complex ideologies with their corresponding cultures, structures and lifestyles to support these varied concepts.

We have ideas of freedom from liberalism, capitalism, socialism, communism, hedonism, feminism, environmentalism, stoicism, deism, etc. They always contain some grain of truth and render some amount of good that is more or less practical, whether personal, social, political, economic, etc.

But we have to remind ourselves first that freedom is not self-generated. We did not invent it ourselves. We did not give it to ourselves nor is it something that totally depends on us as to how to understand and live it.

Understanding and living freedom that way is bound to lead us to trouble, because it would be a freedom that would not capture all the requirements of the dignity of man. Such condition would only frustrate us in our deeper yearnings, if not put us on the road of conflict with others.

It would be a freedom that would not understand the reality of sin, pain, forgiveness, charity, etc. It would be a freedom that would not understand the necessity for the cross. It would be short-sighted freedom, given to knee-jerk reactions to things-a freedom that does not go beyond time and space, unable to reach or supernatural goal.

Freedom is a gift from God, our Creator and Father. It is a sharing with us of his own goodness that is all summarized in love. Since we have been made in his image and likeness and elevated to be children of his through grace, God wants us to have what is at the core of his being, and that is love.

That´s why we can say that we are truly free when what we do or choose is really what we love. It´s when we love when we can truly say we are free. That gospel passage which says it´s truth that makes free holds water only when what we consider truth is the object of our love.

Our freedom therefore has a specific substance and a law to govern it. And that substance and law can only be the love of God for us. It should be the love of God that should drive our freedom. Anything else would not suffice.

Our freedom is never an anything-goes affair. It´s not that just because something can be done or that we can do something, that we should feel free to do it. It would be a fatal misunderstanding of freedom if we take freedom that way.

Alas, this is what we are seeing these days. Many people have appropriated to themselves as the author and giver of freedom. They make themselves, with some help of certain philosophies and other practical instruments, the very substance and law of freedom.

There are now people who claim, for example, that it is part of women´s rights  to have contraception, abortion, sterilization, or that no one should tell them anything about whatever they would like to do with their own bodies. They invent terms like reproductive health and responsible parenthood that have nothing to do with the commandments of God.

There are now people who claim it is just right to have same-sex union, to cheat and be unfaithful as long as one is not caught, to be dishonest and corrupt, to engage in some dangerous experimentations involving delicate aspects of life and parts of the human body, etc.

They scream that they are doing all these because they are supposed to be free. But are they really free? Are they not being unfairly influenced by the state of their biological, physical, mental, psychological, emotional, social, cultural conditionings, etc.?

We have to understand that while these conditionings have  their due place in the exercise of our freedom, they are not supposed to be the ultimate principle to shape and determine it. They need to be grounded and integrated to the real source of our freedom.

And that can only be the love of God that is revealed to us in full by Christ and is made available to us in the Spirit through the doctrine of our faith, the celebration of the sacraments in the liturgy, our union with the hierarchy. This is how God wants it to perpetuate his presence and action of love in us, which is the substance and law of our freedom.

We need to outgrow our misunderstanding of freedom.

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