Thursday, February 11, 2010

Christ, the Source of our Freedom

Praised be Jesus Christ!

One of the most prominent characteristics of the lives of men and women today is the fast pace of life. People are very busy - at least, they often say they are busy. Too busy for things which have no tangible benefit. If something does not bring in money, move us toward the completion of a task, or have an immediate and pleasant sensible effect on any given situation, it is deemed to be a waste of time. This seems to be a good disposition to have; after all, money is good to have, accomplishing tasks is also good, and it is good to feel well. However, lurking beneath the surface of this disposition is an insidious and oppressive form of idol worship.

How is it possible to say this? Simply by pointing out this fact: Most people - if not all - who have this disposition do not worship God. In fact, they give little or no time at all to the question of God (does He exist? and what does that mean for me?). They see prayer as useless and they sometimes even mock it. They claim that they simply do not have enough time to worship God and they make no effort to know Him. In this way, they place the practical things of this world above God - and this constitutes the worship of false gods, false idols. In living only for this world, they create false gods out of all the things of this world. And they serve these gods every chance they get.

Because the worship and knowledge of God is discarded by those trapped in this sad situation, their lives become plagued and oppressed by two other things. The first thing is this: All of their relationships are seriously wounded. For them, their relationships must be useful. Their family members and friends are treated not according to who they are, but according to what they can do. If someone can bring in more money, accomplish many tasks, or bring pleasure, then they are accepted. But if they can't bring these things, they are rejected. This rejection is not always spoken, but it exists nonetheless in the human heart. It is always bad.

The second thing that befalls those who live only for this world is that they have a distorted view of themselves. Either they define themselves by their successes or by their failures. If they define themselves by their successes, they become both arrogant and insecure. If they define themselves by their failures, they become despondent, that is, they despair.

Here we must return to the question of God. Faith in God will liberate us from this sad way of living. When we say "faith in God," we are not talking about a belief in some ambiguous higher power, or a belief in a kind of spirit-world. Rather, we are talking about faith in the one God; the God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob; the God of Moses and of the true prophets; the God who became man in Jesus Christ. This faith in God liberates us. It sets us free by making it possible for us to live, to act, to think, and even to feel according to the truth. When I have this faith in God, first, I worship Him alone and I seek to live my life in a manner that is pleasing to Him. This is what governs my days. Second, I recognize that all those around me are created by God's wisdom and love. Therefore, I have to love them. I have to accept them because of the dignity they have from God. Third, I no longer have to define myself according to my external circumstances, according to my successes or my failures. Neither must I define myself according to the sufferings or injustices that I may have endured. Instead - and this is what liberates me - I define myself according to what God has declared. I become aware that God created me in His wisdom and love, that He loves me, and that He has a good plan for my life, even when I face hardships.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us not be deceived. Living only for this world oppresses the human spirit. It prevents us from loving others and it even prevents us from loving ourselves. But living for the God of Abraham, the God who took to Himself a human nature in the womb of the Immaculate Virgin Mary, this is what sets us free.

God bless you.