Monday, April 02 (O.S., March 20), 2018: Great Monday; Venerable Fathers slain at the Monastery of Saint Sabbas: John, Sergius, Patrick and others († 796); New Hieromartyr Deacon Basil († 1938); Martyr Photina (Svetlana), the Samaritan Woman, her sons, and those with her († c. 66); Holy Virgin Martyrs Alexandra, Claudia, Euphrasia, Matrona, Juliania, Euthymia and Theodosia († 310); St. Nicetas the Confessor the Archbishop of Apollonias in Bithynia (9th C); Hieromartyr Euphrosynus of Blue Jay Lake, Novgorod († 1612); New Martyr Miron of Crete; St. Cuthbert, Wonderworker of Britain († 687).
At Matins for today we hear the following hymn:
Today let us add lamentation to lamentation!
Let our tears flow with those of Jacob, who weeps for
his celebrated and sober-minded son;
for though bodily Joseph was indeed a slave,
he preserved the freedom of his soul and was lord over
Hearing this I might be tempted to think any number of things that are, at best, morally confused. At worse, I might end up of saying something that is truly evil.
The confusion is this: Because inner freedom–what the text refers to as the ‘freedom of soul’–is what matters, I might wrongly think that political or soul freedom is unimportant. “After all,” I might think (or worse, say), “even though Joseph was a slave, he ‘preserved the freedom of his soul’ and even became ‘lord over all Egypt.’”
As St Paul points out to the Church of Rome, I can’t do evil that “good may come” (3:8). The fact that, as the Apostle says a bit later, that God is able to bring good out of evil (Romans 8:28), doesn’t mean evil isn’t evil.
At the very least, evil is something I should avoid. If I can–or better, as much as I can–I should oppose evil. I should oppose evil not only in my own heart but in the world around me.
I must be faithful to the example of Jesus. When after suffering temptation in the desert, how does He begin His own ministry? Going to the synagogue he reads from the prophecy of Isaiah:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord (Isaiah 61:1, 2)
Jesus begins His own ministry by opposing–and so ending–the hold that moral evil and physical suffering have on us (Luke 4:16-21).
While moral freedom is more important than political freedom, the two freedoms are not opposed. While I can have the moral freedom without political freedom, I can’t have the latter without the former.
Ideally, though, a society should have both. And, in any case, Christians are called to work for both moral and political freedom. What we can never do, is sacrifice one for the sake of the other.