We speak of Christ’s saving work as freeing us from sin. St Paul reminds the Galatians in this Sunday’s second reading (Galatians 5:1) that “he meant us to remain free”.
While freedom can mean a freedom from constraint and a freedom to choose, this sort of freedom entails an obvious risk. Free to choose as we wish, we can choose to return to our previous slavery. We are free to give up our freedom. Put in those stark terms it seems a particularly stupid thing to do; and yet all of us, despite being freed from sin by Christ through baptism, keep turning back to sin. We turn back in pride to a self-indulgence which limits us from being what each of us is called to be, and what we are called to be as a community.
St Paul echos Christ himself by reminding us that the whole of the Law may be summarised as “Love your neighbour as yourself”… St Paul obviously taking love for God as read. Thinking of others and acting for their good is what love is – a love that is free from limit. Being absorbed with self places limits on love, and renders us slaves once again.
Even physical captivity does not limit our freedom; indeed St Paul himself showed his love for the churches by continuing to write to them and pray for them while imprisoned.
The move we love, the more we enjoy the true freedom given us by Christ.
We celebrate the principal feast of St Paul, along with St Peter, on Wednesday 29 June.