August 2018

Death of Freedom!

From the beginning of human civilization there have always been struggles and conflicts for freedom. Independence movements are numerous in world history. As we know, freedom can exist in various spheres: political, social, religious, ethnic, cultural, economic or even linguistic. The basic concept of freedom brings much solace to the mind and heart as there is no constraint in thinking and expression, in doing what is beneficial to the individual and society. However, it has become common today to destroy true freedom in the name of freedom itself. The aggressive and tyrannical power of the fake news epidemic which is very prevalent in today’s society is one such example. Also, mob lynchings triggered by WhatsApp messages is sweeping the Indian nation so much so that WhatsApp becomes the ‘KillerApp’. In such a context we shall ponder to know freedom as envisaged by the Creator God.

Freedom to be good!
The biblical concept of freedom envisioned by Lev 25 was the insistence on the freedom of the individual in order that he/she might be free to devote himself/herself utterly and without restraint to the service of God and the fulfilment of His will (cf. Exod 19:4-5; 20:2). When God told Adam: “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die” (Gen 2:16-17), He respected the freedom of man and left it to him to choose good or evil. Nevertheless, God indicated to him the negative consequence of disobedience. What is intrinsic is that we have to use our freedom for good and not to choose evil. This is very evidently put forward in the book of Deuteronomy: “I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity…blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live” (30: 15-19).

Abuse/Death of Freedom!
Wilfully or out of dire human weakness and selfishness people misuse their freedom. The first and best example is seen in the case of Eve who distorted the command of God and misused her freedom (Gen 3:3). In an independent nation people are ensured of freedom- of belief, movement, labour and so on; especially freedom of thought and expression are enjoyed. But we witness today all over the world that the freedom we enjoy is being terribly abused to the extent that it is rapidly leading to the death of freedom. The abuse of freedom is clearly seen in the increase in crimes; in the name of freedom the misuse of the media drowns the young and weak mind in a cesspool of filth; in the name of freedom social and electronic media pollutes the global world beyond remedy; in the name of freedom lesbianism and homosexuality leads to gay rights, gay pride week, gay parades and even gay kissing booths and all of these kinds of things; in the name of freedom fornication and adultery, flaunting polluted relationships and destroying marriages, all these are legalised. Political and religious fundamentalists are sponsored and they let loose gang rapes and murders based on a perverted philosophy of ‘freedom.’ It is said that the responsibility of the current fake news epidemic in India lies not with the social media but with the States that are facilitating it. This is a dangerous trend which the rulers often forget, will backfire. Often, we forget that freedom that is misused out of selfish motives is forfeited or even killed. In fact, this is a clear sign of mental and spiritual slavery, far worse than physical slavery.

Truth will make you free!
We read in Genesis that “The Lord saw that the wickedness of humankind was great in the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually” (6:5) and also, we learn from Jeremiah: “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick” (Jer 17:9). Therefore, although humankind is created in the ‘likeness and image’ of God (Gen 1:26-27), because of original sin, we are in the clutches of sin (Rom 7:20). Moreover, the rise of evil in society is not the result of political or social slavery but due to spiritual slavery. In this respect, Jesus says: “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (8:31-32). Jesus is Truth (Jn 14: 6) and so, Jesus will free us from the clutches of evil. It is obvious, therefore, if we follow the words of Jesus we will surely come to know the right path of life and this spiritual freedom of love, mercy, sacrifice, justice, and so on will make us free from slavery to sin. On the one hand, if I render obedience to sin, I am a slave to sin and lawlessness but I am “free” with respect to righteousness (cf. 2 Pet 2:19). If, on the other hand, I render myself a “slave” to righteousness, I become free with respect to sin. This is spiritual freedom!
This spiritual freedom is the Christian freedom which is not the freedom to indulge the flesh. Paul very emphatically asserts: “do not let sin exercise dominion in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions” (Rom 6:12). To put this into practice in his own life he wrote to the Corinthians: “I punish my body and enslave it, so that after proclaiming to others, I myself should not be disqualified” (1Cor 9:27). Thus, it is our humanness twisted with self-centeredness that provokes us to sin. This uncontrolled aspiration stimulates our ‘rulers,’ politicians, god-men and multinational companies to amass wealth, power and name at the cost of the sufferings of the voiceless mass. Most often, people forget that true freedom does not lead one to cause ruin to individuals or society. Selfishness is the mark of slavery to one’s own sin and finally it will end in ruining himself/herself.

Mother of Independence
Our Lady accepted freely the call of God to be the Mother of Jesus and she, rightly, exercised her freedom of choice to listen to the voice of God and follow in the footsteps of Jesus, even though it was demanding and challenging. Her life of freedom gave the Saviour to the world and she was rewarded with Assumption into heaven. As we celebrate in this month the feast of her Assumption, we shall be motivated by our divine Mother to uphold the right use of freedom and to challenge those who are really ‘slaves’ in the name of freedom.