From the Ukraine to Myanmar, from Syria to Tahrir Square, people’s voices are rising up in their search for freedom from fear, tyranny and oppression. In this search for freedom, there is a reflection. What does freedom mean?
Jesus says: “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free!”
What is it that we shall know?
Is it that democracy is a better form of government than autocracy?
Is it that “republicans” are better than “democrats”? Is it this or that?
“The mortal dilemma consists in the double fact that man is in bondage to nature while at the same time he possesses a unique liberty — freedom of spiritual choice and action. On material levels man finds himself subservient to nature, while on spiritual levels he is triumphant over nature and over all things temporal and finite. Such a paradox is inseparable from temptation, potential evil, decisional errors, and when self becomes proud and arrogant, sin may evolve.” (111.6.2)
We are spiritual beings with a human legacy. When we become fully aware of the limitations of our human legacy, of our emotional attachments, of the instinctual urges and drives that dictate our attitudes and behaviors, we discover a possible path toward our inherent spiritual status as the beloved of God, without duplicate in infinity, irreplaceable in all eternity.
The first step toward spiritual freedom is the honest recognition of the human condition, its gifts and its limitations. With that recognition comes the choice to take the path of humility or humiliation. Without humility the humiliation of experience will eventually cause a reflection, that pride does come before a steep fall, personally and collectively, that self-centered freedom is not freedom.
This is the beautiful legacy of Gandhi, King and Mandela, that the way of truth is a way of non-violence, of justice and of mercy. The way of truth is contemplative connection with greatest power of the universe, the Source of divine love. Out of such love the values of civilization are forged, day by day, year by year, decade by decade, the values of truth, beauty and goodness.
In this season of Lent, may you recognize that the greatest sacrifice would be your attachment to the emotional instability of anger, fear and anxiety, and your simultaneous commitment to a practice of worshipful communion with Divinity and service to Humanity. May all those who yearn and work for such freedom be blessed, as, in truth, they are!