My Dear Sisters and Brothers! St Paul reminded the Christians in Galatia, and us as well that: ‘you were called to liberty.’ Some of us may think of that statue in New York. It is interesting that Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi designing the statue used the ancient Roman goddess of freedom – Libertas to express the concept of freedom which could appeal to the modern people. The statue’s full name is Liberty Enlightening the World.
For us Christians however the crucifix is the statue of liberty.
Firstly the crucifix evokes real events. It is true that it was a brutal execution however there is more to it. In the Gospel of John we hear Jesus speaking of it: ‘No one takes my life from me. I lay it down of my own accord.’ The crucifix is therefore a piece of human and divine history. It preserves the memory of the Son of God who in his freedom offered his life for our salvation. It wasn’t an accident. It wasn’t bad luck. It wasn’t fate. It was a free act of love.
Secondly the crucifix proclaims to us that: ‘When Christ freed us, he meant us to remain free.’ I mentioned at the beginning of this homily nomophobia as a new addiction. There are many other names for addiction but they all come to one – sin. Jesus said: ‘Everyone who sins is a slave to sin.’ St Paul while elaborating on it wrote: ‘You are slaves of the one you obey – whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness.’
Our Blessed Mother declared herself a slave of the Lord. What came out of that was her joyous and life-giving freedom because God doesn’t want to have addicts. God wants to have worshipers who can worship him ‘in spirit and truth’ as free people. God desires our love and only free people can love.
St Paul in the First Letter to the Corinthians wrote: ‘I have the right to do anything’ you say – but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’ – but I will not be mastered by anything.
I don’t know if St Paul had some psychological training but he was an astute observer of the world and a reflective follower of Christ. If I start saying that I have right to do anything rather soon I will find myself in a situation that I have to do many things which means that I am losing my freedom. Freedom as offered by Jesus is the ability to choose good and to reject evil.
Let me finish with some words of St John Paul II: ‘True freedom is not advanced in the permissive society, which confuses freedom with license to do anything whatever and which in the name of freedom proclaims a kind of general amorality. It is a caricature of freedom to claim that people are free to organize their lives with no reference to moral values, and to say that society does not have to ensure the protection and advancement of ethical values. Such an attitude is destructive of freedom and peace.’
Let us look at the crucifix in our church, at this statue of liberty enlightening the world with the divine light which shone so powerfully on Good Friday that the Sun lost its brightness. At the foot of this ours statue of liberty let us beg the true Liberator of the humankind, Jesus Christ, to set us free, to send his Spirit to our hearts so that enlightened by his holy Word and sustained by his holy Body and Blood we may keep our freedom to choose good and reject evil.