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July 1989

When Christ freed us, he meant us to remain free.' (Gal. 5:1)

From time to time St Paul received news from the communities he had founded about some individuals or groups who were going astray. As we can imagine, events like these caused him great suffering. This is what has happened to the Galatians too, whom St Paul addresses in this letter. After he had left them, they had allowed themselves to be influenced by false teachers and were abandoning the Gospel which he had announced to them.

In an attempt to bring them back to the faith, St Paul reminds them on the one hand of the extraordinary graces which they had received while he was there, and on the other hand warns them about the grave error they are about to commit.

When Christ freed us, he meant us to remain free.

St Paul tells them that salvation cannot be the fruit of techniques, of discoveries or indeed of any human efforts as the false teachers would have it. Salvation can only come from Jesus, from the gift of his spirit, which he has obtained for us by offering himself on the cross. It is Jesus who, in giving us his love, has transformed us and made us new people, capable of building the new world he began. It is Jesus who has freed us from evil, from sin, from our passions and rebellious tendencies. In fact, he is the source of that inner freedom, that peace and inexpressible joy which lifts us above all the ugly things of the world and lets us experience even now a foretaste of heaven.

When Christ freed us, he meant us to remain free.

But salvation, this very precious gift, was not obtained for us by Jesus so that we could treat it lightly or superficially. Although it comes from him, it is now up to us, to our personal commitment to continue receiving it. We must be faithful to Jesus, to his words, to the gift he has given us, especially in moments of temptation or trial, which the Lord permits in order to make us grow spiritually. Above all, it calls for humble and trustful perseverance. After every mistake, after every failure, whether big or small, we must begin afresh.

When Christ freed us, he meant us to remain free.

How can we live the Word of Life this month? It is clear that the Word of Life helps us to become more aware of the priceless gift of salvation which Jesus has obtained for us. It encourages us to safeguard it and allow it to grow.

Difficult moments may come for us too, moments of darkness, of uncertainty, in which we are tempted to go back to our past life, to false freedom of the world. In such situations we must fight with all our strength to show our faithfulness to Jesus and our love for him. We must call to mind all he has taught us about facing such circumstances, and put it into practice. A sense of true freedom will flow within us anew; hope and joy will return to our lives.

We can promise to do this always and, even if we are tempted to stop, the victories already achieved will encourage us to begin again always and to do as God desires.

Difficulties are permitted by God not in order to stop us but so that, by being put to the test, our Christian life will be strengthened.

Chiara Lubich

 

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The Word of Life is published by the Focolare Movement