One year on Palm Sunday, our pastor said something that struck a
chord for many of us. As part of his homily he said, "We are not
slaves to our weaknesses, failures or sins." For us, Lent has
become a season to let go of whatever diminishes our freedom in
Christ. Lent has given us a chance to continue to grow in gaining
freedom from many things so that we can hold more securely to the
one thing that matters.
This is a path that runs counter to what the world thinks of as
freedom. Often it isn't easy. Looking back through my own family, I
realize freedom was a precious commodity. From outward appearances,
my grandmother, the mother of 10 children, seemed to have no
In spite of an alcoholic husband, she planted her heart firmly
in faith and brought all 10 children up to be good, strong, decent
men and women. At her funeral, I was surprised when I saw her in
the casket. In death, she had an absolutely radiant, triumphant
look on her face.
My mother didn't appear to have much freedom, either. Dad was a
man with a quick temper and a need to control. At times he could be
so difficult and demanding I once asked my mother why she never
She said that years ago when my brother and I were young, she
had decided to stay with him only until we were grown, and then
leave. She said that by the time we were grown, she had come to
love the broken, vulnerable, hopeful, generous man she knew to be
hidden beneath his rough exterior.
Both my grandmother and mother were women of grace and dignity.
Only in these past few years have I realized they were women who
had anchored their freedom in something beyond their circumstances.
One year at a retreat, a parishioner spoke about his personal
faith. He and his wife had seven children. Three of these,
including his only two sons, lost their lives before they became
adults. He spoke of accepting all that life brings, including the
crosses, and of the freedom he and his wife have found in accepting
God's will. He is one of the kindest, freest men we have ever
St. Maximilian Kolbe freely took the place of a prisoner
condemned to death in Auschwitz. Franz Jagerstatter refused to
serve in Hitler's army and paid for his refusal with his life.
Until he was caught and hanged, Lutheran theologian Dietrich
Bonhoeffer worked underground to defeat Hitler.
People who hold on to Christ, even while drowning in a storm,
know where true freedom lies. George Eliot said, "It is never too
late to be what you might have been." These final days of Lent are
freedom's path, even though they lead to death on a cross. It is
never too late to bury our past in Christ and rise in freedom with