At the outset, God made man according to His “image and likeness.” For St. Thomas Aquinas, man is a composite of body and soul. And, the faculties of the soul are intellect and free will. This is then what distinguishes man from animals: ‘man is a rational animal.’
Now, when it comes to man’s free will which is one of the faculties of the soul, man has free choice (freedom); he can make choices because of the free will or freedom that he enjoys. But, of course, we have to consider that man’s freedom is not absolute, that is, choosing and doing anything that he likes or wants to do. No, man’s freedom is rather conditioned or limited, that is, he has to make choices within the bounds of law. And, for us Christians, it is making choices within the bounds of the Ten Commandments or the Will of God. Once a Christian makes a choice beyond the bounds of the Ten Commandments or God’s Will, then he distances himselffrom God. This is then what sin is all about: ‘alienation of man from God.’ It is man who distances himself from God by making a bad/poor/sinful choice, and thus abusing his freedom, that is, making a choice beyond the bounds of the Ten Commandments or God’s Will.
Freedom/Happiness/Spirituality: It is only by making a choice within the bounds of the Ten Commandments or God’s Will that we really and truly experience true happiness, and thus come closer to the original state of which we were created: ‘made into God’s image and likeness.’
In the history of salvation, man alienated himself from God by committing a sin of disobedience (disobeying God’s Will – which is then an abuse of freedom), and thus man became a slave to sin: ‘by one man’s disobedience (Adam), all became sinners.’ But, because of His great love/mercy for us, God did not abandon us, and thus sent His Son Jesus to be our Liberator/Savior, that is, liberating/saving us from the slavery to sin, and thus giving back our original freedom – the freedom to make free choices which are not influenced or shackled by sin: “Therefore just as one man’s trespass (Adam) led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness (Jesus) leads to justification and life for all. For just as by the one man’s disobedience (Adam) the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience (Jesus) the many will be made righteous” (Romans 5: 18-19).
So, when it comes to freedom: It is not much of ‘freedom from’ – like slavery from sin, but more of ‘freedom for’ – like becoming true children (sons and daughters) of God. Yes, we have been saved by Jesus from the power of sin and death through His Paschal Mystery, that is, His Passion, Death and Resurrection. And His freely given and gracious saving act was done once and for all, but continues till the end of time. The memory of Jesus’ offering of Himself for our salvation is not only being remembered but also is made present (actual) every time we celebrate the Mass (Eucharist). According to Pope Francis, the difference is that the one (sacrifice) of Jesus was bloody, and the one (sacrifice) in the Mass is unbloody; but both are the same sacrifice of Jesus that saved us and continues saving us from the power of sin and death until the end of time.
Jesus then ransomed us with His own blood (offering freely His own life) in order to free us from the power of sin (slavery/evil/Satan), and thus giving back our freedom to become true sons and daughters of God. Reflection: Isn’t it that God became poor so that we might become rich (i.e., God the Son taking our human nature, except sin, so that we might become rich with grace in God’s sight)? Isn’t it that God became man so that we might become like God (since we were made into God’s image and likeness)? Didn’t Jesus freely choose suffering and death in order to offer us everlasting life (since God created us in order to share His Divine Life with us)?
Lastly, sin is alienation from God, that is, being away from God’s grace, and thus results to unhappiness because this is not the purpose why God created us. God created us because He wants to share His Divine Life with us – which is the true/real meaning of life. As St. Augustine says: “Our hearts are restless until they rest in God.”
By Moms for Mary with Priest and Close Family Friend, Fr. Mirador