Every day in the news recently, we see some people who are choosing not to wear masks and choosing to flout social distancing rules. They are usually the loudest ones, honking horns at the state capital, screaming in the faces of law enforcement officers and even congregating at large pool parties. I saw the comment of one such person on a blog about wearing masks. “I woke up this morning a free person.” By that, I assume that he believes that he can do whatsoever he wants with no thought of anyone else. That is not freedom. That is selfishness.
If I am truly free, I can maintain the essence of my life no matter what is happening outside of me. A selfish person cannot ever be free because his/her one great longing is to fulfill his/her selfish desires. That totally depends on the outside circumstances. A rebellious person can never be free either. That person is always going to do the opposite of what anyone asks him or her to do. Therefore, if a rebellious person is imprisoned or confined in some way, the confinement will always impinge on his/her ability to behave rebelliously. Even a religious person in the sense of loving the outward manifestations of religion, can never truly be free. That person’s religiosity will always desire those traditions and will always feel limited and somehow less holy if he/she cannot have a physical presence in the church or with religious articles such as rosary beads. True freedom can only mean being free from Satan’s kingdom. Know the truth and the truth SHALL make you free. In other words, if you don’t know the truth, you are not free. It cannot be both ways. You are either serving God or the other guy.
Jesus always spoke in parables. Ministers and teachers love to use parables to teach us a lesson. Parables are stories that help us to see an important point. What if God also loves parables and what if our whole lives are parables? This whole pandemic is a parable. The whole world is stuck inside. We are all in a kind of prison. Why? This strange new parable is showing us how captured we are, but we are all reacting differently to this quarantine. If I feel stuck and in prison because of the restrictions of the quarantine or of social distancing or wearing a mask, then I am captured. However, if I’m free in God, no one and no thing can take my freedom away. If I’m wearing a mask, I am still free. If I’m staying in my house, I’m still free. No matter my outward circumstances, I am still free to love, free to serve and free to pray always. That is what is happening inside. No one can take that away. My mind and heart are always free to speak to God, to worship Him or to pray to Him. If I am confined, my inner life’s freedom continues on. Wearing a mask cannot stop me from loving God and my neighbor. Standing six feet away from a person cannot stop me from praying for him/her.
Though we may all still be captured to varying degrees, if we watch our reactions to this confinement and recognize that we are reacting negatively for a reason, we can learn from this situation, and we can yet be made free on that point because recognizing our negativity leads us towards the solution. That is the first step on the path to knowing the truth. That path will always lead us to the truth which will make us truly free. Only then we be free indeed.
That is why Jesus is my hero. Satan had nothing in him. For that reason, he could stand tall, look Pilate calmly in the eye and say, “You could have no power at all against me, except it were given to you from above.” (John 19:11) He was completely free even in the face of the man who apparently had the power to put him to death. Even in the face of that possibility, he had total faith and trust that nothing could happen to him unless God the Father allowed it. Because he experienced the best and the worst of this earth and yet maintained his integrity, he is well able to help us reach that place as well.