Lent is the time when we focus on taking up our daily cross in imitation of Christ. The cross we bear is about more than suffering a serious disease or the death of a loved one or living without enough income to cover expenses. It means sacrificing our own will to that of the Father’s—doing what He wants, not what we want.
It’s a paradox, though, that in sacrificing our own will, we find true freedom. This is what Jesus meant when he said, “My yoke is easy, my burden light.” It was yet another manifestation of his divine mercy.
If life’s purpose lies in getting what we want, as our culture insists, then freedom becomes a very big deal. Freedom, we think, is what allows us to exercise our “inalienable right” to the pursuit of happiness. With this view of freedom, it’s easy to feel threatened by constraint of any kind. Our instinct is to resist it with all our might, for it impedes our ability to live the life we think we want.
For the more we rely on others or others rely on us, the less free we are to go wherever we wish to go, pursue whatever we wish to pursue and do whatever we wish to do. Love constrains us. And in a society devoted to personal self-fulfillment, the cost of love often seems too high.
For followers of Jesus, the “free” person is the one no longer plagued by the burdensome quest for money, pleasure, possessions, social status or political power—the very things that our culture says will satisfy our deepest wants and make us happy.
Our prayer today: We thank you today, Lord, that in your merciful cross we find true freedom.