No. 27 Cry Freedom
Beneath the seeming tolerance and open-mindedness of our day, there rages a relentless struggle for the very soul of man. For, in the name of freedom, the notion of a Supreme Being and his relationship to us is questioned by many.
Seductive Canard of our Times
Freedom! Self-expression! Creativity! Admirable goals and human values. But today widely portrayed as opposed by and incompatible with Christian teaching on God and the trusting and joyous submission to the Divine will that is required of those who claim to be his children.
Over the last 100 years, more and more numbers of people have drifted away from belief in God, and shying away from the thought of obedience to a God they cannot see. This process continues to gather momentum, driven by the idea that the more we allow God to direct our lives, and the more we submit ourselves to God’s will and His Commandments, the less becomes our freedom to be ourselves. ‘Obey God and you become a slave, no longer able to do your things as you see fit. You are diminished, unable to realise your potential, even dehumanised.’ This so-called wisdom of the age insists that there is a see-saw relationship between obedience to God and human freedom.
Is this not the contagion of our day? A case of the moon rebelling against the sun whose light it reflects, insisting that it shall be its own source of illumination and beauty? A case of members of a symphony orchestra not having their instruments in tune, and refusing to follow the direction of the conductor of the orchestra? A lunatic freedom? Perverse and foolish vanity? What do you think?
Challengers and Protesters
Many support this view because they cannot see through it. ‘Religion should serve and liberate people, not govern, gag and control them. ‘Religion is man-made fiction’, they say. ‘And those who speak in God’s name must be silenced, re-educated, ignored or over-ridden; In our exciting and promising scientific and technological age, ‘We must take control of our lives, each of us should be guided by a free and flexible conscience (whatever that might really mean), untrammelled by moral absolutes. We are far more knowledgeable than our forebears. And the more knowledgeable and proficient we become, the greater the degree of intellectual and personal freedom our humanity demands. We must be free to make up our minds and go wherever our truth takes us.’ Others, in their good will but without much thought, do not admit or articulate all this, but opt to drift, to ‘go with the flow’. ‘If people say it, or do it, and get away with it, it has to be O.K. for me. So, let us sieze the day, and where possible, make whoopee while we may.’
Is this not the problem, the atheistic spin, delusion and curse of today? Are we really in charge, really in control?
Just a Thought
Someone once said, ‘Dead bodies can float downstream. It takes a living person to swim against the current.’ Another: ‘ Eliminate God, exalt self, do whatever you will, and what have you? Happiness, freedom and peace of mind? Or a gnawing sense of futility? Emptiness? Heartbreak? Disorder? Chaos? Despair?’
The word of the Lord
Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross every day and follow me.’ (Luke 9:23; Matt 16:24. CTS New Catholic Bible). [What do these words really mean? Do they endorse the fallacy of the age: ‘God or my rights and my freedom’?]
The Scriptures and the Church affirm and the saints bear witness to the reality: that we can attain true freedom, and be fully human only in the Lord. ‘If we live by the truth and in love, we shall grow in all ways into Christ, who is the head by whom the whole body is fitted and joined together, every joint adding its ownstrength…. So the body grows until it has built itself up, in love’ (Ephesians 4: 15 -16).
Through St. Paul the Lord speaks to our times:
‘In particular, I want to urge you in the name of the Lord, not to go on living the aimless kind of life that pagans live. Intellectually they are in the dark, and they are estranged from the life of God, without knowledge because they have shut their hearts to it. Their sense of right and wrong once dulled, they have abandoned themselves to sexuality and eagerly pursue a career of indecency of every kind. Now that is hardly the way you have learnt from Christ.You must give up your old way of life. put aside your old self, which gets corrupted by following illusory desires. Your mind must be renewed by a spiritual revolution, so that you could put on the new self that has been created in God’s way, in the goodness and holiness of the truthí (Ephesians 4: 17 -24).
The Church teaches that those who seek God, His Will and His Kingdom, and who take Christ as their light, their rock and their salvation, think and know otherwise. They experience true freedom: ‘Emmanuel. God with us’. They know that God, whether the weather be fair or foul, has made us to know Him, to love Him and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in the next. A life, a project and a destiny unsurpassable; to be freely chosen, for it is never forced upon us.
During a rally in this Cathedral in the 1980s, the priest conducting it expressed these thoughts in another way. ‘Lord, you are the Michelangelo. Let me be your brush. Then together we shall paint a masterpiece’.
And if we require further evidence that submission and joyous obedience to the will of God is the way to happiness, all we have to do is to look at Mary, the handmaid of the Lord. And remember how her freely given and complete “Yes” gave the Almighty God the means for human redemption and salvation. Are we not invited to be more like her?
Christ Jesus be our Light, our Way, our Truth.