By Linda Bordoni
"God’s love renders us free” Pope Francis said to the crowd gathered in St. Peter’s Square, even when in prison, even when we are weak or limited by circumstances.
Only the love given to us by Jesus can break the chains of slavery to sin, especially that of “one's own ego”.
Reflecting on the third Commandment that is dedicated to the day of rest, the Pope quoted from the Book of Deuteronomy in which the Third Word “commemorates the end of slavery” and said “it is a day in which the slave must rest like the master, to celebrate the memory of Israel’s liberation from the slavery of Egypt”.
Many forms of slavery
But, Pope Francis, explained there are in fact various “forms of slavery, both external and internal”.
He mentioned external constraints such as “oppression, lives seized by violence and other types of injustice” as well as “psychological bonds, complexes, personal limitations” as well as a series of existential realities from which it is apparently impossible to distance ourselves.
Yet, he continued, history offers us examples of men whom – like St. Maximilian Kolbe and Cardinal Van Thuan for example - although subjected to imprisonment and oppression, have managed to experience profound freedom and repose.
“God's mercy frees us. And when you encounter God's mercy, you have great inner freedom and you are able to transmit it” he said.
The slavery of the ego
The Pope warned those present in particular against “the slavery of the ego” which, he said, has the power to enslave one more than a prison does.
“Those people who spend the day checking the mirror are slaves of their egos” he said.
And describing the ego as something that can be more oppressive more than a torturer or a jail-keeper, the Pope said that kind of slavery is a sin.
Elaborating further, he pointed out that true freedom is more than choice: it is liberation from the bondage of selfishness, sin and lovelessness; from such slavery there can be no rest.
Sins that deprive us of freedom
The Pope went on to list a number of sins that deprive man of true freedom and love. He said there is no respite for the greedy because gluttony is the hypocrisy of the stomach, which is full but makes us believe that it is empty” while “the need for possessions destroys the miser” and “the fire of anger and the worm of envy ruin relationships”.
Jesus’ redeeming love
Thus a “real slave” Pope Francis explained, is he who is incapable of repose and of loving. All these vices and sins, he said, “render us slaves to ourselves and make us unable to love because love is towards the other”.
So, “true love is true freedom: it detaches us from possession, it rebuilds relationships, it knows how to welcome and how to value one's neighbor, it transforms every effort into a joyful gift and makes us capable of communion”.
The love we receive from the Lord, Francis concluded, gives us freedom even when in prison, even when we are weak and limited”.