Freedom and Love – a Homily by Peter van Breda

In our early childhood we are most happy when we are with our family, embedded in its warmth and security. Even in our childhood we have a growing urge to experience freedom, to escape the nest and start looking more independently at the world around us. Come adolescence we grab the first opportunity to spread our wings and by the time we are adults, one of our deepest drives is is to experience ourselves as free. As the old pop song says: Born free, as free as the wind blows, as free as the grass grows, Born free to follow your heart. It ends by saying that life is only worth living if we are free.

It is amazing that we all united by this deep wish to be free. We are both sensitive and protective about what we understand as a human right – our inviolable freedom. This was not always the case. Going back in history we can trace human beings’ journey on their way towards this most coveted existential sense of personal freedom. We can see and identify this process much as we can follow it in our own biography from childhood into adulthood.

No sensible person today would ever wish to relinquish their freedom, especially if they have won against the background of a constricting childhood or social life.

Nevertheless, as freedom-loving individuals we have to admit that our human freedom has had devastating consequences in society. Both in the religious and in the political life but also in commerce there are often extreme tendencies not only to overlook but also to constrict and even deny any true expression of human freedom. We have to pay a mighty prices for the gift of freedom. We might want to be free and should be free but at whose expense, well in a way everybody else’s if it is only my freedom that I’m demanding.

Before we consider the positive side of our freedom, we need to ask the following: if freedom is an intrinsic part of being human, and if we believe that the spiritual worlds were and are responsible for all of creation then did God actually bestow this problematic yearning for freedom upon us, or could we imagine that He didn’t instill it but allowed it to evolve? It is complicated as we can’t be truly be ourselves without becoming our own inner masters: we need this to be free. Does God need something for our full evolving, which he himself cannot bestow?

If God who subsists in goodness merely allows freedom to develop with all its challenges, we can imagine that it was the adversary forces have played a central role in this process of our becoming. Because of this, the gift of freedom is double-edged sword – vital for our becoming, but potentially destructive.

In our emancipated era, we can begin to fashion our inner life in such way that we turn our freedom into a positive virtue. We can consciously resolve how we wish to exercise our freedom. We can put our freedom in the service of lofty goals and aims. We can guide our lives by what is really important. A profound step follows in the growing realisation that God and the divine worlds need us to recognise them and to follow them without coercion but rather in absolute freedom. Christ the guide and ultimate Lord of destiny never takes away our freedom; He gives it to us in a new way. Through his incarnation and becoming human He knows what and why freedom is essential for us on the road to becoming truly human.

Freedom has an counterpart, which is love. This is what Christ teaches us, to learn in freedom to love. Whatever we think and do, we try to fill with heart felt love. Through Christ who dwells within the heart of our being, we can learn ever more clearly the aims and goals of the divine worlds. This is an all-embracing step. In freedom we respond and resolve to serve with love the goals and aims of the spirit and in so doing become co-workers with them in freedom with love filled intent.

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