By Fr. Roy Cimagala
WE need to be clear about this. The truth that would really set us free is when we identify ourselves with Christ who, while teaching what is good and evil, eventually bore all the sins of men for our salvation. More than just proclaiming the truth in terms of what is right and wrong, he offered mercy to all, including those who crucified him. That is the ultimate truth.
All this truth of our faith that relates truth to Christ is encapsulated in Christ’s words: “If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
To be sure, truth is not only matter of facts and data, much less, the possibility and the fear that something that is speculative would happen in the future. The truth that would really set us free is when like Christ, we are willing to suffer even as we proclaim always with charity what is right and wrong, what is good and evil.
In this life, to be in the truth and enjoy authentic freedom, we have to expect suffering. The idea of truth and freedom that excludes suffering here on earth is neither the truth and the freedom that Christ revealed to us.
We need to understand this truth of our faith well, because nowadays it is very easy to be confused about where to find freedom and how freedom should be. That’s because all sorts of ideas promoted by all kinds of ideologies and spread by powerful groups have been flooding the world.
Nowadays, freedom is mainly understood as the power to do whatever a person or a group would like to do. It is purely a subjective freedom, based only on one’s conception of it or on the consensus of a certain group.
There is also the erroneous idea that freedom is anything that gives one some pleasure, some convenience, some advantage, etc. Again it is an idea of freedom that is self-oriented, not other-oriented which is how it should be, since freedom is a matter of loving, and loving is self-giving, not self-serving.
Because of these confusing if not erroneous ideas, the sacrifices involved in loving the way Christ has loved us—Christ who is the standard of love and freedom—turn off many people who cannot accept the freedom offered to us by Christ. After all, Christ himself said that if we want to follow him, we have to deny ourselves and carry the cross. (cfr. Mt 16,24)
We need to promote the real freedom that is offered to us by Christ. We have to preach about it, in season and out of season, and explain it thoroughly, using arguments that are adapted to the different mentalities and cultures of the people.
Our problem in this regard is usually that of being ineffective in our preaching because we use complex or subtle arguments, examples, etc., that are above people’s head. This is not to mention the fact that many times people find inconsistency in what we preach and in what we do. We do not walk the talk.
If only we manage to convince people, using both human and supernatural means, that we can actually get in contact with Christ who is always alive and is in touch with us, then we can see this authentic freedom lived out all over the place.