The Lord God said, “I have witnessed your affliction my people and have heard your cries of complaint against your oppressors, so I know well what you are suffering. Therefore, I have initiated an extraordinary Divine intervention, to rescue you from your oppressors; leading you out of the land of slavery into a good and gracious land, a land flowing with milk and honey.” Exodus 3: 7-8 (paraphrased)
This is the week in both the Hebrew and Christian traditions that we celebrate the invitation and the journey to freedom. The Jewish celebration of passover begins on Tuesday, March 30th and the Christian celebration of Holy Week begins today with Palm/Passion Sunday. While both celebrations commemorate historical events, the deeper significance lies in our own call to freedom and the journey we embark upon in accepting this call.
Both Moses and Jesus of Nazareth heard the call to spiritual freedom within themselves and set about a course that allowed them to accept freedom within themselves. As is the natural course, they could not contain that freedom only within themselves, but found themselves compelled to lead others to that same kind of freedom. Moses led the Israelite people out of literal slavery, but more importantly, led them to a deeper sense of freedom and trust within. Jesus, through his example and teachings, showed each of us the way to embracing the truth that he knew – the truth of Oneness with God.
Spiritual freedom is the truest and deepest longing of our being. While we freely chose the human experience, our Divine parent lovingly planted within us the recollection of our truest nature as peaceful, loving and free. This memory then created a longing within us to return to this natural state of contentment. To paraphrase St. Augustine – we are ever restless until we rest in the full recollection of our original nature as One with God and with one another. It is this restlessness that compels us to seek until we find the antidote to this longing. The remedy to this longing, as Jesus and Moses both discovered and continued to cultivate – is God (or whatever name we give to that state of absolute truth and love). As we tend to our spiritual life through contemplative practice, we remember more and more fully this intimate state of Oneness with the Divine. The fruits of diligent practice is an increasing amount of joy, deeper peace, a growing trust in God and a heart filled with compassion. This is the truest form of freedom. As St. Paul said, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Freedom.”
As we commemorate the historical events that led the Hebrew and Christian people to freedom, let us be open to the call of freedom within our own hearts and listen as to how we are being called to embrace and live that out.
Watch and listen to the song from the musical Sarafina – Freedom is Coming