April 29, 2012

Freedom in the Word

Continuing the third and final part of Verbum Domini, the Holy Father writes about the true meaning of freedom in his words on "the proclamation of the word of God and young people". He cites his own words from a homily just six days into his papacy: "If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. No! Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide. Only in this friendship is the great potential of human existence truly revealed..."

In his words on "the proclamation of the word of God and migrants", he reminds us that the faith "is to be proposed, not imposed." Pope Benedict talks about the "kerygma" that all are entitled to hear. This is the initial preaching or proclaiming of the Good News, which comes before any religious education. All are entitled to that first contact with the Gospel, to hear what Jesus Christ has done for them out of love, that the way to eternal life is open, that the Bread of Life is waiting for them to take and eat.

That is the real freedom - not freedom to sin but freedom to follow Christ.

If I decide to pick up the ball and run, I am no longer free to play soccer. If I drive on the wrong side of the road or choose to ignore red lights, soon enough I will no longer be free to drive a car. If I don't follow the rules of good health, I will no longer be free to live an active life. Too often, we confuse the word "freedom" with "license". As strange as it sounds to many modern ears, freedom does not mean release from all rules but comes from following the rules.

Only in friendship with Christ can we reach our full potential, because Christ comes to free us from what is really weighing us down - hopelessness, greed, lust, anger, hatred... in a word, sin.

For a more full treatment of Christian freedom, read the Catechism 1730-1742.

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