A lot of us think that freedom means being able to do whatever we want. As children, we want to only eat candies, as teenagers we want to stay out late, as adults we ignore the teachings of Christ and the Church and do whatever our body’s desire. Is this the freedom Christ died on the cross to give us?
St. Paul tells us, that we were not set free to sin, we were set free from sin; we were set free to be able to love. Sin enslaves us and keeps us from happiness. Christ came to break the shackles of sin and death, so that we can live in true freedom.
If we desire to have enough money so that we never have to work another day in your life, then we are a slave to money. Money will be our master, and we will not be able to part with it to help another. If we desire popularity, to be honored by all, then we will be a slave to people. We will not be able to share the truth of Christ with others because we will be afraid that they will hate us for it. Christ had treasure and honor in heaven, but he willingly abandoned it and came to earth, to show us that more important than those things is the Spirit of God dwelling in us.
In the United States, it seems the highest value is freedom, but isn’t love a higher value? Indeed it is the highest value because God is love, and he is the ultimate value. Our bodies tempt us to go in a different direction, but the Holy Spirit is stronger than the body, and he dwells within us. The Spirit has guided the Church to declare that humanity shouldn’t have the freedom to abort our children, we shouldn’t have the freedom to commit suicide with the help of a doctor, and we shouldn’t have the freedom to raise children in homes where God’s design for parenthood of one man and one woman is intentionally ignored.
Right now the bishops of the United States are asking us to celebrate a Fortnight for Freedom. This a period of 14 days, chosen by the US bishops to remind us to protect the freedom to love.
One thing that stands out to me this year is that we are losing our freedom of speech. Catholics and Christians are being silenced; we are being told that the Christian message, the one that we have been commanded by Christ to share is not one of love but of hate, and that we shouldn’t have the freedom to profess it. People are being fired from their jobs or not hired, for sharing the truth of Christ, the same truth which Christ said would set us free. The ones who are enslaved to sin, do not want us to profess the truth, because they do not want to be set free. They do not want to be challenged by God or by us, but Christ’s words are challenging, and we don’t have the authority to change them.
In the Gospel we heard today, some would not let Christ into their town because they did not want to be challenged by him. They didn’t want him to have freedom of speech there. And then we hear of others who allowed Christ to speak, and were they challenged? Yes, Jesus tells them that if they follow him, they should not look back at what is left behind. They need to be free from their old lives, from the desires of the flesh, and be open to the new life of freedom in the Spirit.
During this Fortnight for Freedom, please pray that our nation will not become like that village which fails to welcome Christ. Teach your children that love is a higher value than freedom, and that we need to be able to profess the Gospel not only in our homes and on church property; there should be no “safe space” from Christ. If we do nothing we may be looking at a future where religion is enslaved.