When we commemorate our freedom from the British rule this month, we need to pause awhile and ponder the true meaning of the word freedom. It is one of the most misused and abused word in our times. When we do and live as per our will and wishes we connote it as freedom. Such a definition is the result of defining radical autonomy as freedom.
The biggest gift that God gave mankind was the freedom that we got with the coming of Christ. It was the decision of God that we live according to His will and to fulfill this he created us in his image. Freedom is the power, rooted in reason and will, to act or not to act, to do this or that, and so to perform deliberate actions on one’s own responsibility. By freewill one shapes one’s own life. Human freedom is a force for growth and maturity in truth and goodness; it attains its perfection when directed toward God, our beatitude. We can discern the true meaning of freedom when we associate the word freedom with God. God created us in his own image and he gave us the power to think for ourselves. He instructed Adam and Eve not to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The forbidden fruit is the cost of freedom. It does not mean that we can do what we want and take what we want, when we want. But when we are denied certain things, it is then freedom finds its true essence.
When we look at freedom from the perspective of the Holy Scripture it is defined as the freedom to choose between good and evil. Freedom instills in us a responsibility as well. The book of Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 15:14-17 says, “He himself made human beings in the beginning, and then left them free to make their own decisions. If you choose, you will keep the commandments and so be faithful to his will. He has set fire and water before you; put out your hand to whichever you prefer. A human being has life and death before him; whichever he prefers will be given him.” Good and evil, life and death, success and failures are all options available for a man to choose from. Depending on our will and wish we choose between good and evil. The Lord asks of us this in Deutronomy 30:19, “Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.”
As we celebrate the 71st anniversary of freedom of our nation, if we need to experience freedom in its true essence we need to choose life and good. When evil is successful in spreading the darkness around, we need to be constantly awake and aware to choose light and good. When we understand truth, experience it and practice truth in our lives. It is only then that the freedom is actualized in our lives.
Fr Saji Mathew Kanayankal CST