Free, but a slave—now, that is a paradox. In the gospels, our Lord offers us freedom, tells us that He will make us free indeed. Last year, our Bishop asked us to consecrate ourselves to Jesus through Mary. This year, it is my desire to renew this Consecration because, frankly, I forgot all about it after I completed it last year. That is not good; therefore, I want to “take another stab at it.” This entails one making himself a slave of Mary. Now, there were some who told me that that did not mean in the sense we think of being a “slave”—the true meaning of “slave.”
Webster defines “slave:” A person who is wholly subject to the will of another; one who has no will of his own, but whose person and services are wholly under the control of another. A slave, therefore, has no possessions except those that he is allowed to possess. The difference between a slave and a servant is: A servant receives pay for services rendered, and a servant can have possessions. Therefore, the question becomes: How can one be a slave yet be free?
In order to answer this question, I had to ask myself other questions. (Do you sense that I like questions?) Is Jesus God? Was, and is, He free? Was He a slave? Was He happy? These were pretty easy questions to answer. Yes, yes, yes, and yes.
Yes, Jesus is God, the Son of God. Yes, Jesus was free; and, yes, He is free. God is free, for He is God. He answers to no one. If anyone would be free, it would have to be God. Jesus was under the Law, but He was still free because the Law was a verbal picture of God. Was He a slave? This question may cause someone to pause, but Jesus made it clear: He came, not to be served, but to serve. The serving He was referring to was to be a slave. One way He proved this was by washing His disciples’ feet. He proved this also by undergoing His passion, crucifixion, and Resurrection. In another way that He was a “slave” is He had no will other than to do the Father’s will. He made His Father’s will His will. And, yes, Jesus was happy.
In the Beatitudes, the “man” is Jesus and all who are in Him through Baptism. We become “not happy” when our wills take us outside the character of God. Because Jesus is free, we are free in Him; because Jesus is a “slave” because He loves the Father with all His heart, mind, soul, and strength, and loves His neighbor as Himself, so are we “slaves.” Because Jesus is a “slave,” He is free. Because we are “slaves” in Him, we also are free.
This theological reflection courtesy of the parishioners of St Paul Catholic Church in Pensacola, Florida: stpaulcatholic.net