What is it about us that best shows that we are made in God's image? The Catechism teaches that the outstanding manifestation of the divine image in us is freedom (1731). But Gospel freedom isn't doing what we want when we want with unlimited license and unprincipled permissiveness. Rather, as Pope John Paul II said, there is a "fundamental dependence of freedom upon truth. Only the freedom which submits to the truth leads the human person to his true good."
Monsignor Luigi Giussani said it poignantly: "Freedom is the capacity for God." To be free is to make room for God. It is to be unfettered of lesser delights and deceiving distractions so as to live fully for God. Freedom means being "capacious" for holiness. Clearly then, freedom is much more than a mere capacity for choosing; "freedom is the humble, passionate, faithful, and total dedication to God in daily life." To be free means to flee whatever incapacitates us for sanctity. We live with the need for total satisfaction in our life. We expect it; we yearn for it. And only the Easter gift of freedom can satisfy that desire.
"Freedom is to acknowledge that God is all.... It is complete self-fulfillment ... the possibility to reach and confront one's destiny" (Giussani). Pope John Paul II reminded us that "communion with the crucified and risen Lord is the never-ending source from which the Church draws unceasingly in order to live in freedom." Freedom means adhering to the risen Lord with the full force of our full-blown faith. As Cardinal Christoph Schönborn writes, "To allow oneself to be led by God, to abandon oneself to his direction, is the highest expression of our freedom." For "God willed that man should be left in the hand of his own counsel so that he might...freely attain his full and blessed perfection by cleaving to him" (CCC 1730).
Think about those areas of your life in which you are most unfree.
Finding our perfection at the tomb
This dynamic of grace is played out on Easter morning. Mary Magdalene and the women return from the tomb and report to the apostles about the angels and the empty tomb. However, "the story seemed liked nonsense and the apostles refused to believe them" (Lk 24:11). Nevertheless, Peter got up and ran to the tomb and became filled with amazement. What is it that prompted Peter to dismiss dismissiveness and to be filled in the face of emptiness? Freedom. Despite his threefold denial of Jesus, Peter's capacity for God remained undeniably undiminished. As Pope John Paul II explained, "freedom is a decision about oneself and a setting of one's own life for or against the good, for or against the truth, and ultimately for or against God." The Catechism tells us that man "finds his perfection in seeking and loving what is true and good" (1704). It is authentic freedom that impels Peter to race to the tomb, and it is freedom that transforms him. When Peter reaches the empty tomb he reaches and confronts the fullness of his destiny.
Sharing Christ's freedom
Think about those areas of your life in which you are most unfree. Eastertide is the perfect time to come to terms with whatever limits, hinders, or impairs our capacity for God. What overfills your life, leaving no room for God? The Holy Father assures us that "the crucified Christ reveals the authentic meaning of freedom; he lives it fully in the total gift of himself and calls his disciples to share in his freedom." Freedom begins in self-emptying...becoming as empty as the tomb. For, as Fr. Aidan Nichols, O.P., observes, freedom is God "giving us a genuine role in what happens." When we take on that role we glorify God. Make a space for grace. Be free.
It is authentic freedom that impels Peter to race to the tomb, and it is freedom that transforms him.