By Fr. Roy Cimagala
MARY Magdalene, a big-sinner-turned-saint, teaches us a great lesson about freedom. And that is for us to realize that the ultimate purpose of our freedom is to look for Christ, for God, in everything we do and have in this world. In this life, we are always confronted with a choice—whether we want to be with God and or simply to be by ourselves. We have to make the proper choice. And that’s what our freedom is all about.
As the gospel narrates, (Jn 20,11-18) Mary Magdalene, despite the heavy load of her past, went early to the tomb of Christ and when she found it empty, chose to sit there weeping. She was bent in looking for Christ who gave her the greatest liberation from her dark past. And she was richly rewarded. She became one of the first, if not the very first, to see the resurrected Christ.
Many people, of course, have their own ideas of freedom. But if we really want to know what it is, where it can be found, how it should be exercised, etc., we have nothing to do other than to look at God who is the source and end of freedom. He is the one who gives the law proper to our use of freedom.
And what can we see in God with respect to freedom? The direct answer is that God did everything for us completely free, without any special reason, without any pressure. We can say that he did all those wonderful things for us because he just wants to. In our local lingo, he did them because “trip ko lang!”
What he did and continues to do to us can only be characterized as being completely free. It was pure grace, unadulterated gratuitousness. That in the end is what freedom is all about.
He created us freely. There was no necessity on his part to create us. But he did it just the same. He endowed us with the best things, such that we became his image and likeness, adopted children of his. There was no need for him to do that to us. But again, he did it just the same.
And even if we spoiled his original design for us by falling into sin, by going against his will which can only be good for us, he did not leave us and, instead, promised to redeem us. He would have lost nothing nor gained anything if he would have just allowed us to get lost. But, no, he preferred to save us.
There was no necessity for him to send his son who became man to redeem us. But he did it—completely freely. The son, Christ, did not have to offer his life on the cross to save us. There are many other ways to do that. But he chose it freely because it was the best way to save us, respecting our human nature that needs also to be responsible for our salvation.
He is willing to assume all our sins without committing sin. He offers us boundless mercy for the taking. He did all these completely freely, completely gratuitously. He actually gains nothing, but we gain everything if we follow him in living that kind of freedom.
We need to process these considerations of freedom slowly so as to reflect them little by little in our lives. It will take time and a lot of effort to imbibe this kind of freedom which can only be the genuine one. Outside of this, our idea of freedom can never be right. It can have some aspects of freedom, but not the whole, true one.
Again, the ultimate purpose of our freedom is to be with God! Let’s not waste it on other things which are meant only to bring us to God in the end.