If I told you today that you’re going to prison for no apparent reason other than you’re just not liked for being a Christian, and will be placed in a cell with the worlds most notorious serial killer, what would happen?
Go on, before you read on try to place yourself in the shoes of someone going into that cell and being put there for life. . .
Describe in the comment section below what emotions you experienced. If you experienced any kind of anxiety, fear or nervousness then you are not yet a free man. If, in the midst of your distressing situation you felt anger, upset, afraid, anxious then, even though you may believe in God and have regardless his heavenly reward,it does not preclude that you are free.
Is your wife causing you distress. Is the way she talks, eats and picks her nose bothering you? Then you are not yet free. In fact, you are enslaved to others because you become upset and angry on the occasion of their behaviour even if such things they do are vile and horrible.
Not only can we be enslaved to others, but we can become enslaved to the cultural norm around us. You’ve heard it before we must succeed in passing the test and if we don’t we must get upset because it wouldn’t be normal NOT to get upset. Isn’t that so ridiculous? and yet everyone around us day in and day out are a victim of this.
We are like little birds with a string attached to our legs unable to fly beyond the Sacraments of the Church and daily devotions, advance spiritually because these are the very things that hold us down.
Of course, for those of us who never become free of the string, God will come and cut it someday (when we die). Then there are those who are ”aware” of the string which is much better than total ignorance. At least then you can wriggle your way to freedom.
Then there are those who actually break free from the string because they have been given the grace to do so.
What is the string? It’s anxiety, fear, anger, hatred, sexual immorality. It was built by the culture around us to prevent us from attaining the heavenly heights. It is all those people who talk behind your back. It is the man who raped your daughter and whom you cannot forgive. It is the weight of the world and Satan holding you back but once you’re free, you are now the appropriate slave of Christ and a freedom very few (including myself) attain.
This kind of spiritual height however is usually attained by those not living in the world. But like a dog who eats the scraps, if we even manage to fill our spiritual bellies with some of this valuable information, oh how navigating the interior AND exterior life would be made so much easier.
To be able to sit in prison and find happiness in the four dark walls that surround you for the next 20 years, this is what it means to be under the instruction and oppression of another and yet more free than the person who enslaves you. It won’t be long before the prison guard sees how free you are and begins to question the piece of string attached to his leg preventing him to fly.
True freedom consists in being attached to God not to others. If you are attached to your car and become upset someone threw paint all over it, you are enslaved to something not made by God but by man and so you’re an idolater of the material.
This is what Jesus means when he says if a man asks you for your cloak give it to him. Be free not only of the material but the actual conceptual images and indoctrination of you’ve been taught since the day you were born.
You were taught to seek the praise of others. You were taught that you must try to impress others and that when you were applauded by your peers you began to feel so great inside and this feeling is necessary for living.
It is like Heroin, it controls you, you need it so badly the approval of others and if you don’t get it you become so depressed and feel so unloved.
You visit a psychologist not to cure you from your stupidity but just to listen to your garbage for an hour to help you alleviate your pain of being rejected by your wife, husband and girlfriend.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t have mercy on those who live in darkness (and we all live in Darkness and stumble from time to time) because you can’t help but have mercy for them. They’re not perpetrators, they’re victims of the world and victims of themselves. They’re hurting, they need our love and sometimes love comes in the form of a very firm but necessary crash course in what it means to be free.
St.Maximos the Confessor says that we must show mercy to those who stumble in darkness. What is the darkness? it is that string tied to the bird’s leg. That’s what darkness is and finding the light switch can be so hard sometimes but it is possible only when one desires to be free or has someone in the room shouting ”Over here, here is the light switch, come follow me”.
Because we all need someone to guide us don’t we? Without them we remain in the darkness. We wake up in the darkness, receive Holy Communion in the Darkness, confess our sins in the darkness, go to work in darkness, make love to our wives in the darkness, then we die in our darkness and only then do we see the light of Christ.
But we can see the light of Christ now, we just need to look for that switch.
I’m not asking you to follow me because I’m still looking for mine.