In today’s Gospel, Jesus says that everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. But he also promises that he can set us free.
Today’s culture believes that we are free when we can choose whatever we want to do. Not only that, but we deserve to be affirmed by everyone else for having made those choices.
But this is a false freedom.
The way that God lays out for us is not just what God wants. It is a way that is logically correct. It is true. It respects the dignity of others. It is the way that we know inside ourselves to be right, if we have taken the time and effort to properly inform our conscience.
When we choose to stray from the path that leads to God, we sin. To sin is to commit a fault against God. But we also commit a fault against reason, truth, and conscience. Sin ultimately makes no sense. It is illogical. It does not align with truth. We almost always know deep down that it is not right.
Sin leads to more sin. It often leads to addiction to the sin. It does not lead to freedom. It impairs our freedom. We become enslaved to sin, as Jesus tells us today.
True freedom is the ability to do the right thing. It is a freedom for excellence. It is a freedom that leads to the greatest possible human flourishing. It comes from doing God’s will.
When we see a musician or a sports star who makes their craft seem effortless, we also see the results of years of disciplined practice. This discipline yields a freedom for excellence. It results in a freedom from making mistakes that would not bring the desired results. Their work makes it easier for them to do things well. Doing it well has become a habit. The same is true of the moral life.
God is not just good. God is goodness itself. God is the source of all good. God cannot wish anything other than the best for us because that would be contrary to God’s nature. Trusting in God is also trusting in that fact. It is knowing that we will become the best that we can be when we become what God wants us to be.
Are we seeking to be truly free by following God’s will? Are there some ways in which we are still seeking the false freedom of trying to do whatever we want?