Sunday, July 01, 2007

Angelus: Freedom and how to follow Christ


AP Photo/Plinio Lepri

~translated by Teresa Benedetta of Papa Ratzinger Forum

Dear brothers and sisters!

The Biblical Reading for this Sunday's Mass invites us to meditate on a fascinating subject which may be summarized thus: freedom and how to follow Christ.

The evangelist Luke narrates that "when the days for his being taken up were fulfilled, Jesus resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem" (Lk 9,51). In the expression 'resolutely' we can see Christ's freedom. In fact, he knew that in Jerusalem, death on the Cross awaited him, but in obedience to the will of the Father, he offered himself for love.

It is in this obedience to the will of the Father that Jesus realizes his own freedom, making a conscious choice motivated by love. Who is more free than he who is omnipotent? But he did not exercise his freedom by imposing his will or dominion. He lived it in service. This way, he has 'filled up' the idea of freedom, which otherwise would remain simply the 'empty' possibility of doing or not doing something.

Like the life of man itself, freedom carries a sense of love. Indeed who is more free? He who keeps to himself all possibilities for fear of losing them, or he who 'resolutely' spends himself in service and thus finds himself full of life through the love he has given and received?

The apostle Paul, writing to the Christians of Galatia, in present-day Turkey, said; "For you, brethren, have been called unto liberty. Only make not liberty an occasion to the flesh: but by charity of the spirit serve one another" (Gal 5,13).

To live according to the flesh means following the selfish tendency of human nature. To live according to the Spirit means, instead, to allow oneself to be guided in one's intentions and works, by the love of God which Christ has given us.

Christian freedom is therefore anything but arbitrariness. It is following Christ's example in giving himself to the point of sacrificing himself on the Cross. It may seem a paradox, but the Lord experienced the peak of his freedom on the cross, as the height of love.

When, on Calvary, they shouted at him: "If you are the son of God, come down from the Cross!", he showed his freedom as the Son precisely by remaining on that scaffold in order to fulfill to the very end the merciful will of the Father.

So many other witnesses to the truth have shared this experience - men and women who have shown that they remain free even in a prison cell and under threat of torture. "The truth will set you free." Who abides by the truth will never be the slave of any power, but will always know how to freely make himself a servant to his brothers.

Let us look on the Most Blessed Mary. Humble handmaid of the Lord, the Virgin is a model of the spiritual person, fully free because immaculate, immune from sin and all holy, dedicated to the service of God and other men. With her maternal concern, may she help us to follow Jesus, to know the truth and to live freedom in love.

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