In the context of our human nature unassisted by the promptings of the Holy Spirit we are exposed to the vagaries of natural life as we stumble along perhaps with good intentions but without the assistance we truly need to shake off the vestiges of our attachment to things natural and worldly. It is a dilemma that most of us face as we seek to move forward in the spiritual life for it is in the soul that the battle rages as the soul is the battlefield between God and Satan. If we are to be truly successful, we need to clothe ourselves with Jesus and die to ourselves as St Padre Pio has said.
We’re speaking of course of “authentic freedom”. “Authentic Freedom” consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought to do [Pope St John Paul II]. Our dignity and our identity as personal beings created by God in His image and likeness is at risk when we allow our likeness to be distorted by a perverse notion that freedom constitutes a license for doing what pleases us rather than what pleases God. It is in pursuing this illegitimate notion of freedom that we as individuals lose identity as we embrace a type of amnesia that causes us to forget our destiny and our dignity. On a collective scale, humanity generally can lose its identity as it pursues the same false notion of freedom [Pope Benedict XVI].
We need, of course, to focus on the liberating significance of our redemption. Prior to the redemptive act we were bound in slavery to the inclinations of our human nature. Jesus has untied the chains and given us the right to pursue authentic freedom. This has given hope to those who had despaired of anything higher than their present lot. If we have been pursuing an authentic Christian life we have come to realize the immensity of God’s love for us and that our creation in the image and likeness of God signifies that God has made us for himself and that our hearts will be restless indeed until we rest in Him.
As St John Paul II has said in his “Gospel of Life”, “we become fully human when we become more than human as we let God bring us beyond ourselves in order to attain the fullest truth of our being”. It is in the context of this reality that we “find the source and inspiration of all of our efforts at evangelization. If we have received the love which restores meaning to our own lives, how can we fail to share that love with others?”
A meaningful dialogue with God through prayerful encounter is essential if we are to allow God to bring us beyond ourselves. The temptation is not to commit ourselves to mission because we think that nothing will change. Why would I deny myself comforts and pleasures if I won’t see any significant result? As Pope Francis has said in his “Joy of the Gospel” “it is a self destructive attitude, for man cannot live without hope”. We know also that “hope” is one of the theological virtues delivered by the Holy Spirit.
Every one of us is called to be a saint. As Saint Therese of Lisieux has said “ you must be a whole saint or none at all”. May each of us continue to dialogue with God as to how each of us is called to build up the Kingdom.