ONLY JESUS MAKES US FREE
The Pope’s message to the participants and organizers of the Meeting
To his Excellency Bishop
Mariano De Nicolò Bishop of Rimini
Your Excellency, it is with great joy that the Holy Father is spiritually present, through this message, at the XXVI edition of the Meeting of Rimini, entitled “Freedom is the most precious gift that heaven has bestowed upon men.”
This year’s theme is of extraordinary importance in this historical and cultural moment in which nothing is as misunderstood as the term freedom. It is really true: the closest thing to God’s heart is our freedom. He wants us free, and loves us inasmuch as we are free, to the point that He accepts the risk that we may distance ourselves from Him, so as to save in us the possibility of acknowledging Him without interior constraints.
But why does God love our freedom? Because in us He sees the image of His Son incarnate, who always freely embraced the Father’s plan, who freely accepted a body, and freely abased Himself even unto death on the cross, in that sacrificial oblation that the sacrament of the Eucharist actualizes every day on the altar. We too will be able to experience being truly free only when, embracing unreservedly the plan of Christ, we also will participate in His freedom.
Thus, authentic freedom is the fruit of the personal encounter with Jesus. In Him, God gives us and restores to us the freedom that otherwise we would have lost forever because of the sin of our first parents.
What happened to the Samaritan woman in John’s Gospel (cfr 4:5-43) happens to each of us. She felt reborn inside, and had the perception of returning to being truly free in the encounter with that “man” who told her everything she had ever done, and revealed to her her true face and destiny.
In contrast, the rich young man (cfr Mt 19:16-22) did acknowledge in the Lord the possibility of human realization, but he lacked the courage to follow Him fully because, as the Gospel says, he had too many riches. He erroneously held that true freedom, which he ardently desired, was the absence of ties, of bonds, and of any obedience. And so, while remaining apparently free to act according to this own autonomous choices, he went away sad. We can certainly try to build our existence without Christ, but the only consequence will be our remaining forever alone and disconsolate.
The message that the Holy Father sends to all the participants at the Meeting is that only Jesus makes us free! You cannot think about freedom without your thought going to the term liberation, which is part of the name of your Movement. Jesus is liberation for us! Liberation from sin, from our false desires, ultimately from ourselves. Ubi fides ibi et libertas: these words, pronounced on the occasion of the funeral of your dearly departed Msgr. Giussani, His Holiness now confirms, reaffirming that liberation is the most beautiful existential reverberation that faith can evoke in our life.
With these sentiments the Holy Father sends his best wishes for good work to the participants at the Meeting and imparts to everyone his Blessing for bountiful celestial favors.
In extending to the organizers of the initiative also my own warm wishes for full success, I renew my kindest brotherly regards,
Most devotedly in the Lord
Angelo Card. Sodano
Secretary of State
July 25, 2005