Sunday, April 16, 2006

Jesus, Born Free, Lived Free, Died Free


Jesus, Born Free, Lived Free, Died Free

This is the time of the year when we become more conscious than ever that Jesus is a strong presence in our lives. For the last two weeks or so I have been exchanging ideas about God, Jesus and human freedom with a rather intelligent, open minded individual. We have been swapping E-mails and the truth is that I await his reaction to my E-mails with great anticipation. We don’t see eye to eye, but we do respect one another’s point of view about he important points of our faith.

It all started when I read an article of his that is entitled, “Jesus is Pro-Life. Really.” I responded to his article and he wrote back to me. Soon we were discussing the wonders of having been created free. I was extolling the grandeur of the gift of freedom as granted us by God, and he was hedging his complete assent to my position because freedom sometimes makes us do things that are not pleasing to God. As it turns out, after exchanging some seven or eight rather lengthy E-mails, we still do not see eye to eye on the matter, but we became respectful of one another and I am sure that we will exchange more ideas on other topics sometime in the future.

I do not share his reservations about human freedom. We are the only creature left in God’s “inventory” that has freedom as a divine gift. The angels had it, but lost it. Adam and Eve had it and, despite their disobedience, did not lose it. Throughout the entire history of human beings, freedom has been the source of glory and of opprobrium. Either we laugh or we cry; we either choose right or we choose wrong; worse still, either we decide for the right or we decide for the wrong. Still, God is there, loving us through it all. In fact, “…He so loved the world that He sent His only Son so that everyone who believes in Him should not perish, but might have eternal life.” (John; 3/16)

I love this verse because it tells us something that we don’t think about too often. It tells us that Jesus was not sent to the world with the sole purpose of dying for us. Jesus was sent to the world in order to shed light on how human behavior should look. Jesus came into the world to teach us how to use our freedom. He came into the world to teach us how to choose the good and how not to be fooled into opting for evil. He even went so far as to teach us that choosing death over life is not always bad.

He taught us that the source of strength and spiritual power comes to us from a strong relationship with God. When Satan tempted Him in the desert, He quoted Sacred Scripture back to the evil one; He prayed in Gethsemane; He prayed at the Last Supper; He led the prayers and the instructions in the Synagogue; He stayed in His Father’s presence when the duplicitous politicians and Synagogue leaders tried to draw Him off base.

Where did Jesus learn how to behave this way? Need I tell you, Sacred Scripture? The Pharaoh’s daughter chose to save the life of baby Moses; Moses chose to obey God; Noah chose to obey God; Abraham chose to obey God; Ruben chose to convince his brothers not to kill Joseph, their brother; David made a lot of bad choices and did some evil things, but he did more good than evil, and he served as a model for Jesus Himself; the prophets are exciting examples of zealous missionary behavior; the Maccabee brothers gave their lives for the renewal of the temple; Job never turned away from God through all the misery that he suffered. Need I go on? God the Father and God the Son have revealed to us all just how precious a gift human freedom really is.

We have the tools. We have the resources to exercise our freedom for the good that God expects of us. The next week or so is a series of highlights from the life of Jesus, our co-human and our God. Let’s take advantage of this season to insert ourselves into His spirit of love.

We might not always make the right decisions; we might sometimes “fall off the wagon”, but with life (physical and spiritual) and freedom, there is always love and hope. Amen.

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