Throughout our lives, we often imagine a time when we will be free to do whatever we want. When we were little, we viewed each stage of school as a step towards greater freedom. We thought a driver’s license, we would give us the freedom until we realized the cost of insurance and gas. When we left home we thought freedom was within our grasp until we had to pay for clothes, food and the rent among other things. A good marriage and children are indeed a blessing, but they come with responsibilities and limitations. A glimmer of freedom sparks when the kids move out and we finally retire. But surprise! Retirement brings out requests from friends and relatives who ask for our help. With age we experience a certain amount of diminished energy and perhaps unexpected health issues within ourselves or within our spouse.
Freedom will always be elusive if we define freedom as the ability to do whatever we want without limitations. In reality, thoughtful persons understand that life has limitations and choices will always have to be made. Jesus defines freedom in a different way. For Him, and for a Christian, freedom is the ability to choose what is morally good. To be the best possible person we can, is true freedom. This is true even from the confines of concentration camp or Siberian Gulag, from a sick bed, or when we overcome the temptation to cheat on our spouse, or to do some other type of wrongdoing or evil. We all know this deep down this is true.
We are at our happiest and most free when we are at our best. Yes, we have responsibilities, and, yes, this brings limitation, but this does not limit our freedom to be morally good and to do good. Our freedom comes from by being a reflection of the God Who created, redeemed and continues to sanctify us. And that is true freedom; to be our true selves as God created us, allowing His reflection to shine in the world.
There are many of you who are striving to be your best self, even with some moments of weakness and failure. By doing so you are free, free to be who God meant you to be. We cannot confuse freedom with licentiousness. This is what St. Paul is speaking about in the second reading. We should not allow anything to keep us from being our best. When people confuse freedom with licentiousness, they are chained and enslaved by their sins! They thought they would experience freedom; instead, they end up being incapable of being themselves.
Jesus Christ sets us free and we need to treasure this freedom. This takes courage and determination. We cannot just say we are Christian. We also have to be determined to live the freedom of a Christian life.