This weekend our thoughts are directed towards freedom and independence. We are reminded of all those who risked a limited freedom, so that we can live out our lives in real freedom. Those who have gone before, risked and sacrificed that which was nearest and dearest. We today can enjoy the presence of our nearest and dearest in comfort and security. Freedom is not free, we have been so often told. It comes at a price. We thank those who have paid the price. I really don’t feel those two little words "Thank You" can in any way fill up what was taken away in the hell, that is war. “Thank you" will never take the place of missing limbs, wrecked loves, lives, and homes. Can "Thank You" restore the mind shattered by the sounds of battle? How about the minds that have gone to war, and cannot even understand the words, "I Love You". Will those two words be enough for the family and dear ones, who now have to adjust to the many unseen and unrecognized domestic challenges. There is a debt that cannot be paid in monetary terms. We have to pray, that in the realm of the spirit peace, comfort and joy, may come to all those endure the rigors of war.
We are all seeking and searching for freedom, a freedom that will last. I came across the following, written by Thomas Merton: “New Seeds of Contemplation"
"In humility is the greatest freedom. As long as you have to defend the imaginary self that you think is important, you lose your peace of heart. As soon as you compare that shadow with the shadow of other people, you lose all joy, because you have begun to trade in unrealities, and there is no joy in things that do not exist.
As soon as you begin to take yourself seriously and imagine that your virtues are important because they are yours, you become a prisoner of your own vanity, and your best works will blind and deceive you. Then, in order to defend yourself, you will begin to see the sins and faults everywhere in the action of all other men. And, the more unreasonable importance you attach to yourself and to your works, the more you will tend to build up your idea of yourself by condemning other people.
Sometimes virtuous men are bitter and unhappy, because they have unconsciously come to believe that all their happiness depends on they being more virtuous than others."
One does not have look very far in today's world to see anger, fear, quick judgment, denial of who really is my brother, and the outright rejection of Matt 25. The following is really challenging, and will upset rigid thought, and settled judgments. That is why religiosity is so easy, and spirituality is such a challenge. Starting from the moment we read this, if each of us make a solemn pledge to live by these principles, would we ever go to war again. I am not just speaking of countries going to war. I am speaking of the wars that we enter into in our own hearts, souls and minds . I am referring to the family wars, parish wars, and all those wars we enter into because we do not, or choose not make the following a litmus test for the journey, as the contemporary Christ.
"If a man has to be pleasing to me, comforting, reassuring, before I can love him, then I cannot truly love him. Not that we cannot console or reassure! But if I demand first to be reassured, I will never dare to begin loving. If a man has to be a Jew or a Christian before I can love him, then I cannot love him. If he has to black or white before I can love him, then I cannot love him. If he has to belong to my political party or social group before I can love him, if he has to wear any kind of uniform, then my love is no longer love, because it is not free: it is dictated by something outside of itself. It is dominated by an appetite other than love. I love not the person but his classification, and in that event I love him not as a person but as a thing. In this way I remain at the mercy of forces outside myself, and those who seem to be neighbors are indeed strangers; for I am, first of all, a stranger to myself.” Season of Celebration, Thomas Merton.
With real freedom comes real responsibility. How responsible am i going to be in the use of my freedom? Will it be used to give life, as I love as Christ loved? Will I use my freedom to be a " death dealer," as I live my live in cruel and harsh judgments, devoid of mercy and compassion. We are all called to live in the freedom of us being beloved daughters and sons. Not to live in fear, as slaves, but in the freedom of being spiritual beings having a human experience.
Aye!! There is the rub!
So then, this prepares us to reflect more deeply on the opening prayer of this weekend's celebration;
"Father, in the rising of your son, death gives birth to new life. The sufferings He endured restored hope to a fallen world. Let sin never ensnare us with empty promises of passing joy. Make us one with you always, so that our joy may be holy, and our love may give life."