Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Setting Free of Matthew

February 20th's Magnificat reflection (Vol. 11, No. 13, p. 289) on the Gospel reading from Luke 5 (27-32) offered a striking commentary on the nature of true human freedom that puts a worldly sense of freedom back in its proper perspective; namely, that true human freedom lies in nothing more and nothing less than hearing and answering Christ's call to "follow me" (5:27).
Humans need freedom.  As slaves, fettered and confined, they are bound to deteriorate.  We have spent a great deal of thought and time on external freedom; we have made serious efforts to secure our personal liberty and yet we have lost it again and again.  The worst thing is that eventually humans come to accept the state of bondage - it becomes habitual and they hardly notice it.  The most abject slaves can be made to believe that the condition in which they are actually held is freedom.
During these long weeks of confinement I have learned by personal experience that a person is truly lost, is the victim of circumstances and oppression only when he is incapable of a great inner sense of depth and freedom.  Anyone whose natural element is not an atmosphere of freedom, unassailable and unshakable whatever force may be put on it, is already lost; but such a person is not really a human being anymore; he is merely an object, a number, a voting paper.  And the inner freedom can only be attained if we have discovered the means of widening our own horizons.  We must progress and grow, we must mount above our own limitations.  It can be done; the driving force is the inner urge to conquer whose very existence shows that human nature is fundamentally designed for this expansion.  A rebel, after all, can be trained to be a decent citizen, but an idler and a dreamer is a hopeless proposition.
Human freedom is born in the moment of our contact with God.  It is really unimportant whether God forces us out of our limits by the sheer distress of much suffering, coaxes us with visions of beauty and truth, or pricks us into action by the endless hunger and thirst for righteousness that possess our soul.  What really matters is the fact that we are called and we must be sufficiently awake to hear the call.
                                                                                                         Fr. Alfred Delp, S.J.

Father Delp (+1945) was condemned to death in Germany during WWII.

Matthew discovered the opportunity for true freedom in Jesus' call, and immediately left everything behind, got up and followed Him (cf Lk 5:28).  Lent presents us with a unique opportunity for us to reaffirm our commitment to the same; to separate ourselves from the world, reflect on our own Baptism and repentance, and figure out where we can improve in our walk as children of God.  It's our chance to rediscover and renew our sense of freedom from everything in our lives - including our very selves - that holds us back from responding fully and completely to Christ's call, and to remember that to choose anything less than him leaves us only as hopeless, empty slaves.

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