O Emmanuel, king and lawgiver, desire of the nations, Savior of all people, come and set us free, Lord our God.
Here is another antiphon which connects the law with freedom, in a way that recalls O Sacred Lord. At first glance, it sounds “off” to the ear of the “modern person” that freedom comes from law, and yet, that is once again the truth proclaimed in today’s antiphon…king and lawgiver…come and set us free!
This antiphon recalls the words of Jesus found in St. John’s Gospel 8:32: If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free. Another passage from The Church In The Modern World of Vatican II comes to mind with regard to freedom:
It is, however, only in freedom that man can turn himself towards what is good. The people of our time prize freedom very highly and strive eagerly for it. In this they are right. Yet they often cherish it improperly, as if it gave them leave to do anything they like, even when it is evil. But that which is truly freedom is an exceptional sign of the image of God in man. For God willed that man should be “left in the hand of his own counsel” (Eccl. 15:14) so that he might of his own accord seek his creator and freely attain his full and blessed perfection by cleaving to him. Man’s dignity therefore requires him to act out of conscious and free choice, as moved and drawn in a personal way from within, and not by blind impulses in himself or by mere external constraint.
Clearly, the Lawgiver, the Truth, Christ comes before freedom, and freedom is discovered in this and according to this Truth. This natural law is written on every human heart, I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (Jeremiah 31: 33) and is thus universal, from the beginning of time, to the end. Every human person has the capacity to discover this Truth by means of the gift of human reason.
We only need think of our human experience to discover that Truth comes before freedom. In moments of temptation, we are led to follow blind impulses, while knowing in conscience the right and good choice to make. If we persevere (in freedom), clinging to what is true and make the right choice, we know the interior comfort and joy that follows such right judgement. However, if we (in freedom) choose to disobey this interior truth and make the wrong choice, we know the discontent and despair that follows such behavior…the truth makes us free, otherwise, we are slaves to our impulses.
In closing, a quote from the late Pope John Paul II in his Encyclical, The Splendor of Truth.
God’s plan poses no threat to man’s genuine freedom; on the contrary, the acceptance of God’s plan is the only way to affirm that freedom. (#45)
May we continue to live in Truth and Love, and discover the freedom that every human heart longs for; the freedom for which every human person is created.