Another Tweet from my friend Joyce Smith.
The quotation from Pope John Paul II is from a sermon he preached to young people in Baltmore in 1995.
It has a dual context.
First, it is a call to seek that kind of freedom which results not in self-centredness. Freedom is not about getting our own way regardless of others. This is enslavement and mainly to a ‘You’ which is a false self.
Real Freedom must be seen in context of the freedom of others. Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of President Roosevelt once said: “Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility. For the person who is unwilling to grow up, the person who does not want to carry his own weight, this is a frightening prospect.”
Pope John Paul’s words are actually those of Abraham Lincoln. Here’s an extract from his sermon:
“One hundred thirty years ago, President Abraham Lincoln asked whether a nation “conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal” could “long endure.” President Lincoln’s question is no less a question for the present generation … Democracy cannot be sustained without a shared commitment to certain moral truths about the human person and human community. The basic question before a democratic society is: “how ought we to live together?
Surely it is important for America (and everywhere) that the moral truths which make freedom possible should be passed on to each new generation. Every generation … needs to know that freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought.”
This shared freedom was spoken of upon by President Barak Obama who preached a eulogy in 2015 for Pastor, Reverend Clementa Pinckney, who with eight of his congregation was shot dead by a gunman in Charleston. In an anguished sermon he pleaded that, my liberty depends on you being free too. In order for that to happen, President Obama said that we need a different road from that of violence. We need the road of grace and that, he said, requires an open mind and, more importantly an open heart.
So the second context of the quotation of John Paul II requires of us a persuit of freedom which centres not on what we want to get from life but rather, what we can do with and for others.. Freedom requires of us a life dedicated to the service of others. This involves us in seeking grace, as President Obama recognized, but a grace which is Amazing. A grace that can only come from God.
This is centred on living a Freedom that can ony be found in the truth of the Gospel – a truth which Jesus says in John Chapter 8, will set us free. We are encouraged to live in this truth. As Pope John Paul said at the end of his sermon:
Always be guided by the truth – by the truth about God who created and redeemed us, and by the truth about the human person, made in the image and likeness of God and destined for a glorious fulfillment in the Kingdom to come
[Mr G and Joyce]