Anyone who does not carry his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”(Luke 14:27)
The call of discipleship is about giving over of my own desires and ego in following Jesus Christ. Often in our heads we envisage the notion of FREEDOM as being a “FREEDOM-FROM” something or another. I am free-from: the obligation to obey the road rules; free-from the duty to look after the children; free-from my moral duty to care for my fellow human being and treat them with dignity and respect because they may be refugees or people with inferior rights somehow. I can incorrectly view freedom as the ability to reduce my obligations to my God, my society and myself.
The love and freedom that Jesus offers isn’t a FREEDOM-FROM duties and hardship. Duties and hardships are aspects of our human condition which are part of our existence. Each one of us faces struggles and joys in our daily lives, struggles and joys which must be met, accepted and handled to the best of our ability. Jesus doesn’t come offering a FREEDOM-FROM these struggles, indeed he teaches us to embrace them, and that with faith and love, all aspects of life can be handled.
The freedom Jesus offers is a FREEDOM-IN the midst of the joys and struggles. This doesn’t mean that we are to seek out and wallow in pain and suffering (that is an unhealthy theology and understanding of God in itself), but it does mean that with faith in Jesus Christ there is a FREEDOM-IN the marvelous messiness and incoherent unpredictability that can be my life here and now.
In embracing my cross, my struggles and joys, I find a FREEDOM-IN my humanity. Jesus himself walked in this same messiness and unpredictability. The FREEDOM-IN giving my life over in service to the other, in focusing on the common good, is the true freedom. It is not a freedom-from obligations, it is a freedom-in those obligations to love God and to love my fellow human being. Let’s pray that we can each see the work of God in each joy and struggle in my life and see that my true freedom lies in embracing those realities, carrying my cross and asking God to help me then see the freedom found in being a disciple of Jesus Christ.