For the past few weeks, during our weekday masses, we have been hearing from St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans. This might be one of my favorite letters composed by St. Paul as it offers so many wonderful points that are central to our faith as Christians. One passage in particular is often in my mind as I reflect on the life to which we are called as we follow the path of the Gospel:
I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us. For creation awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God; for creation was made subject to futility, not of its own accord but because of the one who subjected it, in hope that creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God.(Rom 8:18–21)
St. Paul speaks about the “glorious freedom of the children of God” that awaits us in Heaven, for there, we shall be freed from the slavery of sin which always threatens us in this life as a result of the sin of our first parents, Adam and Eve. But thanks to Jesus Christ, this freedom is not an altogether future experience for which we hope. It is something that has become possible already here in this life. As St Paul writes in his letter to the Galatians: “For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.” (Gal 5:1) Here he is speaking of a current reality available to us, one that is possible by our own choosing as we reject sin and choose to follow the path of truth and life made available to us through the Gospel way of life.
As we continue our Family of Faith formation with Section Three of the Catechism – Life in Christ, our focus this month is the freedom that comes from following this way of life proposed by Christ and His Church. Part of living this freedom is knowing the choices that will lead us to freedom and avoiding those things which deprive us of it. We will therefore consider the formation of our conscience as a part of this month, an indispensable part of our training to live this gift of the freedom. As I mentioned a couple of months ago, the moral life in Christ is made possible for us through the graces of the sacraments, especially Penance and the Eucharist. To the extent that we make these two sacraments a regular part of our lives, we will experience greater freedom in this life, not because of any ability of our own, but because of God’s strength which lives in us through the sacraments. If we think that we can survive the challenges of this life without these sacraments, we are in for a bumpy road, and the Lord has some stern words we would do well to heed: “Without me, you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) But if we stay close to Christ in the sacraments and follow His teachings, we will realize what St. Paul himself came to believe by following this path: “I can do all things in Him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)
Let us therefore be convinced that submitting ourselves to the yoke of Christ through the sacraments, and obeying His teachings and those of the Church, we lose nothing at all. Instead, we gain the great gift of the freedom of the children of God, already available to us in this life, and fully in the life of Heaven.