We just celebrated the Fourth of July and the Alleluia before the Gospel today really got me thinking about freedom. The reading says, “Our Savior Jesus Christ has destroyed death and brought life to light through the Gospel.” Christ has conquered sin and death and brought freedom to us. But what is freedom?
Genesis 2 explains, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.’”
Adam was free to eat, he was free to choose. This leads to the question that keeps philosophers busy; Why did God allow freedom if he knew we were going to fall? Ultimately, he gave us freedom because he loves us and wants us to freely love him in return. But that necessarily means that the very freedom that is required for authentic love, also allows for rejection.
Currently, our culture tends to think of freedom as doing whatever we want, whenever we want, in whatever way that we want. This was the mistake Adam and Eve made as well. Adam and Eve believed that God was holding out on them. So, they allowed their freedom, which was meant to bring them closer to God, to turn them away from him and toward death.
Now, let’s fast forward out of the echoes of Eden to the present day. We still misuse this God-given freedom to turn our backs on him. John Paul II recognized that, in the beginning, before the fall, this was not God’s will, proclaiming, “Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought.” This sounds counterintuitive in our modern era; for freedom to be doing what we “ought,” but think about it. When we live in accordance with God’s order, design and purpose, we are most fulfilled. When a dog obeys his owner, he is man’s best friend. When a child obeys their parents, they are joyful and protected. And so it goes, within his created order, when we obey God, we are living to our fullest potential.
Contrast that with the fact that every time we sin, it is easier and easier to form harmful habits and become enslaved to that sin, even addicted. That’s when evil makes us less and less of who we were created to be. Therefore, the question for us this month, as we celebrate The Fourth of July is, how are we going to use our freedom? Do we want slavery, or do we want fulfillment? Don’t let this be an empty question that slides off the screen. Take 30 seconds right now and ask yourself how you can live in true freedom this month, and then next month and the next (virtue can become habit too, you know). Then pray to be open to receiving the grace God is offering to you. From all of us here at Rodzinka Ministry, God bless!
Tommy Shultz is the Founder/Director of Rodzinka Ministry and a content specialist for Ruah Woods, a Theology of the Body Ministry. In these roles, he is committed to bringing all those he meets into a deeper relationship with Christ. Tommy has a heart and flair for inspiring people to live their faith every day. He has worked in various youth ministry, adult ministry, and diocesan roles. He has been a featured speaker at retreats and events across the country. With a degree in Theology from Franciscan University, Tommy hopes to use his knowledge to help all people understand the beauty of The Faith.
Feature Image Credit: Jon Sailer, https://unsplash.com/photos/8JYxCF00X3Y