What interesting lessons we have had lately! It seems as though we are back in school studying world history again. The little details about the Roman occupation of the Middle East, the intrigues between the rulers of the empire and the story from Josephus about the Roman soldier who “exposed” himself as a way of showing his contempt for the Jews, have been fascinating. I don’t remember any of this from my world history classes. These “little details” have helped me see more clearly how God is moving through human events and uses what happens in “our world” to further His will.
I was struck by some of the statements in the commentary which spoke about “freedom” this week. For example, on page 86 in the middle of the page, “Paul came to a Roman city that proudly thought itself free and, by the power of Christ, he offered liberation from sin and death to that very city”, and the very last line on page 86, “True liberation comes through the Redemption won by Jesus Christ for all humanity.” Then there was a longer paragraph from a writing of Pope Benedict. I loved the line which read, “Freedom without truth cannot be true freedom…”
Perhaps it is appropriate to share a little of my own history, as we are discussing history in our lessons – I had been away from the Church for many years; the reasons are not important. One night near the end of that self-imposed wandering, I dreamt that I had been to a party, although I didn’t see anyone else who was invited; I just knew there were other people present. The room was very bright and white, and standing near one wall was a figure I knew to be Jesus. In my mind I heard the words, “In Jesus there is freedom”. When I awoke the following morning and remembered the dream, I was puzzled by it. Since I often read the Bible before going to sleep, I thought the line which I had heard in my dream might have been something I had read previously. I spent some days searching through the Bible for that particular line, but did not find it. I decided then that it was time to return to the faith of my youth. I have since realized and been thankful that the Good Shepherd had come to me in my dream to find and save His lost lamb.
Over the years I have continued to reflect on those words from the dream – “in Jesus there is freedom”. The lesson this week has given me even more to ponder and perhaps even a fuller answer to what the words meant. I consulted the Catechism, and this is some of what I found.
There is an entire section in the Catechism on man’s freedom starting with #1730 through #1748. If you have time, you might enjoy reading these paragraphs.
1730 God created man a rational being, conferring on him the dignity of a person who can initiate and control his own actions.
1731 Freedom is the power, rooted in reason and will, to act or not to act…so to perform deliberate actions on one’s own responsibility. By free will one shapes one’s own life.
1739 By refusing God’s plan of love, man deceived himself and became a slave to sin…From the outset, human history attests the wretchedness and oppression born of the human heart in consequence of the abuse of freedom.
1748, “For freedom Christ has set us free” (Gal 5:1).
By returning to the Church, by receiving the sacraments regularly, Christ has set me free – free to do what is good, what is natural, what will help me grow and thrive as a person. Being free means being connected to Jesus, because He is the Truth. As Pope Benedict taught us — without truth we cannot be free, no matter what choices we are able to make or what places we are able to go. To be truly free a person must be in relationship with God.
Karen and I hope that you enjoy this lesson and that you will return to share your studies with us next Tuesday. Remember you may call us if you have a problem with the lesson or just want to talk.
You will receive another reflection next week from Karen and then no more until after the Christmas holidays.
God bless you all,
Karen and Franciene