The feel of true freedom

HINTS AND TRACES - Fr. Roy Cimagala (The Freeman) - November 28, 2020 - 12:00am

Many people have asked me how true freedom, the one that really comes from God, feels. What is presumed behind that query is that there are so many ideas about what true freedom is and how it should feel such that people often get confused. It’s a legitimate question that deserves to be answered.

I don’t presume that I know everything about what true freedom is, much less, how it should feel. But, yes, I can give some ideas based on what we learn from our Christian faith.

I can also offer some description of how it feels, which doesn’t mean that I feel it all the time. In this life, what we know and believe is one thing. Whether we live it or not is another thing. Both conditions will always be a work in progress at best, with the latter often left behind by the former.

Freedom is a gift from God, a creation of his just as our life and nature are. It is a participation of God’s freedom that would enable us to love him and everybody and everything else properly, since we have been created in his image and likeness. How God is should also be how we are.

It’s the expression mainly of our intelligence and will that mainly resemble us with God. It is to be manifested by our bodily, human, and natural conditions and qualities. And so, it can produce its own, distinctive feeling.

Freedom, therefore, is about obeying the will of God and identifying ourselves with him. And because of that, it is mainly a supernatural affair for which we are given the grace to be able to hack it. Of course, we have to understand that grace does not supplant and do away with our natural self.

What grace does is to purify, strengthen and elevate our nature, so we can follow God’s will and enter and share his very own life. This is what is meant by being created in God’s image and likeness. That is the dignity given to us which we also have to work out, in freedom, because God doesn’t impose his will on us. We have to accept this will for us freely and lovingly.

But given our wounded condition, this God-given freedom is often misunderstood, mishandled and violated. That’s why God sent his son who became man for us so we can be given “the way, the truth and the life” that God meant for us.

So the experience of our true freedom cannot but reflect the way Christ, the God-made-man for our salvation, lived and carried out his mission of saving us. The feel of true freedom will always involve a sensation of being liberated from some form of bondage that we often regard as likeable. It will always prod us to follow the teaching and example of Christ.

The feel of true freedom will involve some suffering since it will require effort, struggle, and war against temptations and sin and anything that would separate us from God. Such suffering, if carried out in true freedom, will always be found meaningful by us. Such suffering would, in fact, indicate the authenticity of our freedom.

Yes, while true freedom will involve effort, suffering, a feeling of liberation, it will also give us a deep sense of peace and joy, of self-fulfillment. It will also move us to have a burning desire to think well of others, to serve, to love. True freedom is never passive. It is always active. It is not just reactive. It is always creative, unmindful of the sacrifices involved.

The feel of true freedom can entail a mysterious sensation that we are becoming more and more like Christ without feeling proud and conceited. If at all, such sensation would make us humble and forever thankful!

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