What is our personal understanding of “freedom”? Is freedom being able to do whatever we want according to our feelings, the way we want, when we want, where we want and with whom we want? Let us be honest…this is a widely held concept of freedom characterising our modern time, perhaps even more than in the past. Yet, how can we discover what true human freedom is and how we exercise it? How do atheists understand the meaning of human existence and freedom? How does Jesus want us to understand what true freedom is?
Jean Paul Sartre, a very well known 20th Century’s atheist philosopher had an enormous influence on the thinking of several generations and unfortunately not in a good way. Here are a few quotes from his writings that reveal a man imprisoned in his own negativity, locked in the darkness of a soul who refused the light of Jesus Christ until the very end of his life:
“There is no one on earth or in heaven to give me order”.
“I want to leave, to go somewhere where I should be really in my place, where I would fit in… but my place is nowhere; I am unwanted.”
“Life has no meaning the moment you lose the illusion of being eternal.”
“Every existing thing is born without reason, prolongs itself out of weakness, and dies by chance.”
“Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.”
“Everything has been figured out, except how to live.”
“Hell is other people.”
“It is certain that we cannot escape anguish, for we are anguish.”
It is easy for us to understand that such a mind-set and attitude to life is opposite to Jesus’ teaching and life. St Paul teaches us how to exercise the true freedom given by Jesus Christ when he wrote: “You have been called to liberty brethren; only do not use liberty as an occasion for sensuality, but by charity serve one another (Galatians 5:1).” “This freedom has a high price: it is the life and blood of the Redeemer. Yes! Christ’s Blood is the price God paid to free humanity from the slavery of sin and death. The Blood of Christ is the undeniable proof of the heavenly Father’s love for all men, without exception.” (Saint John Paul II)
Let us then freely choose to follow Jesus, by serving one another in love and accepting our trials as penance for our sins.