This is the reality that the Year of Faith is meant to convey to the culture of death. Christ has set every one of us free for freedom! It seems like that message would be an easy sell. Who doesn’t like free stuff? Who prefers to be in prison to being free to come and go as they wish? Then why, after two thousand years, do we still need a Year of Faith? Why hasn’t every person on earth embraced this Good News after all these centuries?
There are, of course, many answers to this question. The easiest answer is that God always hides truth in plain sight. The verse prior to the verse in Galatians cited above tells us that “creation was made subject to futility” by the Creator in order to turn us toward our Creator. The point of the subjugation that is the daily lot of those who live on earth is to help us realize the truth of our being: That we are loved children, created for our own sake by a Father who dotes on us so much that He’s laid out a path before us cleared by the Blood of His own Son. All we have to do is accept that love, walk daily in that path (the Church) and do our utmost to share this secret-that’s-hidden-in-plain-sight with others.
It’s more understandable to me that the “children of this world”, as Jesus said, are unaware of or unwilling to accept this amazing truth than it is that the believers– who know God as their Father and Jesus as their Savior–still so often insist on being “burdened again with the yoke of slavery” that Paul is warning the Galatians so strenuously about. That we (read: me) so easily and so automatically slip back into that yoke of slavery rather than live in the freedom of the yoke that is “easy” and the burden that is “light” is a cause of constant amazement to me.
We all know what children who grow up in a home filled with love and support look like. Hopefully, at some point in our lives, we were children like that. Jesus isn’t asking us to return to the days of yesteryear, to re-enter our mother’s womb as Nicodemus suggested. Of course not. Jesus is always calling us to more. To “look at Him and be radiant with joy.” To not be afraid and run back to the “fleshpots of Egypt”, no matter how comforting the memory of them might seem. Jesus wants us to rediscover the Truth that’s hidden in plain sight so that we can live in joy and communicate that joy to the “children of this world.”
This way of life requires humility. It requires prayer, as Benedict XVI has been teaching us in his recent Wednesday General Audiences. It requires hope that flies in the face of the nihilism that surrounds us. It requires a realization that it is no longer necessary for us to live in fear. All we have to do is put “out into the deep”, like Jesus and John Paul II urged us to do. It also requires that we stop mocking our Christian brothers and sisters who are attempting to live in this freedom of the Children of God, albeit imperfectly, as we all are. I’m thinking here of the thrashing that Cardinal Dolan has taken in the “Catholic” media regarding the upcoming Al Smith Dinner in New York.
For the love of God, let us begin to live like the beloved children we are and stop throwing stones at our siblings!