The Freedom of the Gospel

I spent much of Advent in December of 2005 in Philadelphia making a second film about the St. Francis Inn, a soup kitchen run by Franciscan friars. This reflection comes from my journal:

Grinding, unrelenting, involuntary poverty robs people of their freedom and liberty. The political and religious freedom that is the foundation of our nation is not the freedom to consume and consume, is not the freedom to ignore the victims of our selfish actions. It is the freedom to love God with your whole heart, mind and soul and one’s neighbor as yourself. It is a freedom found in the light of the divine, a freedom set in eternity.

But this freedom requires taking a risk and being exposed to tragedy. As followers of Christ we need to look to the cross and find a spirit of joy. For Calvary does not mean death – it is a sign of freedom. The cross of Jesus transformed darkness into the light of resurrection. Christ’s torturous suffering and death on the cross is a gateway into beauty, into eternity.

“Take up your cross and follow me,” Christ says. To do so means to accept the suffering your life will encounter, to surrender to God. Instead, we avoid suffering, turn away from it. When you come to the St. Francis Inn you can’t avoid suffering. It slaps you in the face. At the Inn, you can’t turn away from the suffering. You simply embrace it…theirs and your own. You give your life to another. The witness of love lived in voluntary poverty has the peaceful power to change hearts. It is changing mine…and what a wonderful Christmas gift that is.

“What does my faith require of me? To be vigilant about justice, to love boundlessly, never to cease hoping, and to be actively involved in the work of healing.”
-Denise Ackermann
After the Locusts

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