Lent Blog – 4: FREE FOR WHAT?

Published Sat, 20/02/2021 by

Freedom to someone under the yoke sounds bliss.  Freedom from oppression.  From having to do what someone else says.  Freedom to be yourself and choose what you want to do.

But what do you want to do?  That’s the problem.  

If we aim simply to do ‘what everyone else does’, blindly and unquestioningly, that’s hardly freedom, is it?  It’s just fitting in, going with the crowd.  It’s not actually making your own mind up at all.  Besides, some people do one thing and some another.  In these complex times people do a very wide range of things.  So how to choose?  

It’s not easy, but, as I observed in a recent homily, chose we must.  Reflecting on the life of St Josephine Bakhita (who endured many years of slavery before dedicating her hard-won freedom to serving God in the religious life) and the way that many of Jesus’ healings involved casting out unclean spirits, I said: 

“Nature abhors a vacuum.  Unless like St Josephine we resolve to do something positive and good with our freedom, to actively serve our brothers and sisters, to energetically promote their dignity and freedom as children of God, doing all we can to bring compassion, care and healing into their lives, we will probably find ourselves living by unreflective, worldly, lazily-selfish values, marked by many of the hallmarks of the unclean spirit” (Homily, 8th February 2021)

We read in the Bible that having escaped their slavery in Egypt, Moses addresses the children of Israel as they prepare to enter the Promised Land in these challenging words:

“I set before you life or death, blessing or curse.  Choose life, then, so that you and your descendants may live in the love of the Lord you God, obeying his voice, clinging to him; for in this your life consists, and on this depends your long stay in the land” (Deuteronomy 30:15-20)

What does freedom mean to you?

MICHAEL KIRKHAM