Free in Christ
Discerning with the Word: A Guided Lectio Divina for Discerners
Introduction: Freedom is essential to making a good discernment. But it is often misunderstood, seen solely as the elimination of all constraints. In this lectio divina, Saint Paul will guide us to reflect on and pray for the gift of interior freedom.
Lectio: Acts 16:16-40 and Galations 5:1, 13-14
Though flogged, chained, and imprisoned, Paul and Silas sang for joy
The passage from Acts is too long to quote, but you can find it in your Bible or here: http://bible.oremus.org/?ql=297400123.
“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them” (Acts 16:25).
Galations 5:1, 13-14
For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery… For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.”
Read through both readings slowly and attentively, taking your time with them.
How would you describe freedom?
We often pray to God for happiness; how often do we pray for the gift of freedom! And yet, Paul says here that Christ died to set us free!
Sometimes we equate freedom with a lack of external constraints–such as rules, or walls, or consequences. But for Paul, freedom is a lack of inner constraints–from unhealthy attachments and addictions, from anger, and from fear; above all, from sin.
Freedom is not an escape from, but an ability to choose for. Freedom truly is the ability to “Love, and do what you want,” but the key is that “what you want” is a pure desire, free from self-love and directed towards God.
Saints such as Saints Paul, Silas, and Mother Teresa are truly free persons–giving themselves completely in love to others because they are confident in God’s love for them. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus broke out of the prison of fear to be fully free: he freely chooses to do the will of his Father, out of complete confidence in his Father and out of the love for humanity which he shares with his Father.
What is your vision of freedom? Does it include the “slavery” of love? Can you imagine being in prison, but glowing with trust and joy, as Paul and Silas were when singing in prison?
Thrown in prison for the sake of Christ, Paul and Silas are interiorly free. They sing and praise God; they are unafraid in the earthquake; they reach out to their jailer who is so fearful of the future that at one point he attempts to take his own life. Because Paul is looking at his circumstances with the eyes of Christ, he can see how even his imprisonment has led to the Gospel being proclaimed to more people (see Phil. 1:12-13).
- How do I desire to grow in greater interior freedom?
- What and who has God used to “form” me into the person I am today? How do I trust that God will continue to “form” me in the circumstance of my life?
Love is the greatest freedom. Pray for the gift of freedom to love fully, without holding back:
Inflame My Heart with Love – by Blessed James Alberione
Jesus, Divine Master, I thank and bless you most meek Heart, which led you to give your life for me. Your blood, your wounds, the scourges, the thorns, the cross, your bowed head tell my heart: “No one loves more than he who gives his life for the loved one.” The Shepherd died to give life to the sheep. I too want to spend my life for you. Grant that you may always, everywhere, and in all things dispose of me for your greater glory and that I may always repeat: “Your will be done.” Inflame my heart with holy love for you and for my brothers and sisters.
Today, notice the many occasions where you have the freedom to choose, and thank God each time for the gift of freedom. During the week, as you read the news, watch TV, listen to music, interact with others, consider: “What are some ways that people today long to be free?” Offer a prayer for them.