In Imitation of Jesus, to live a Spirituality of Radical Freedom
Extract from retreat notes, preached by Fr. Benoît Garceau, O.M.I., June 2009
The spirituality of Jesus is founded on the primacy of gift. Jesus gave us life, the life of God. This life in us is the growing source of eternal life.
It is the mystical dimension of Christianity. Jesus did not come to give us moral doctrine, a collection of rules from the outside from which we could organize our life in a way that would merit eternal life. He came to give us LIFE, HIS LIFE. This gift of God calls us to that for which we thirst, to our deepest desire. And the fruit of this gift of God and the welcoming of the gift is radical freedom.
To understand the real meaning of this freedom revealed by Jesus, we can look in the Gospels, at the person of Jesus. Unfortunately we do not always do this.. And so we understand freedom as; the power to do what we want, when we want, as we want. Notice that supposes many things: money and financial means, good health (what good is it to have a lot of resources without good health), living without worry. We think we need a good education to be able to manage life, and a good reputation, which then supposes that with power one can do whatever one wants. In reality freedom as the power to do what one wants means nothing, I can change nothing in myself, in my determinisms, in my biology, psyche and in my reputation.
To be free is first what we learn from the Gospels, in meditating on the life of Jesus. To be free is first to be freed from self. To be free as a deep desire within the human being is to submit to nothing, neither things, others, nor even God. That is, it is to be free not to submit to the representations of God as a Pharaoh who makes arbitrary demands on us.
The first step is to submit to nothing. The second is to not be like a thing, already formed. How is it possible?. In the beginning by refusiing to submit to these determinisms at the biological, psychic, emotional level. The third : how to avoid submitting to oneself? And how to make our being a gift? To transform what has been given to us into the gift of our being..
The fourth : how to make of one s being a gift? It is in opening myself to the presence of Him who is absolute gift. It is what the great traditions call ABANDONMENT.
The foundation of radical freedom, in Jesus, is based on the faith of the love of God for creatures. We need to re-read the passage from the Gospel of John, If you live in my Word, you are truly my disciples. You know the truth and the truth will set you free.
The love of God frees us from the slavery of worry, of the opinion of others. It is the only liberation that frees us from ourselves. It frees us from this slavery which can become stifling. Slavery with respect to what others think of us, of their opinion of us, of their look at us. Instead of building our lives on the image that we make of ourselves, we are constantly looking to protect ourselves from failure, criticism, and we forget to open ourselves to the ineffable Presence of the Creator’s love for us.
I summarize by saying that there are two types of freedom : that which we have and that which we are. The first is a freedom from the outside, conditioned by the exterior; we can vote, have many television channels, choose our restaurants and our menus, but this freedom is fragile and we can lose it. The second, the freedom one is, is that which Jesus came to reveal to us and which consists in the harmony in our life, harmony among our choices, actions, our most fundamental aspirations, our most profound desires. Long live the freedom of the children of God.