THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF FREEDOM
"I,GOD, am your playmate ! I will lead the child in you in wonderful ways, for I have chosen you." (Mechtild of Magdeburg 1210-1280). In this beautifully holistic portrayal of the potential of our lives, Mechtild invites us as though into an art gallery to contemplate a picture of hope and meaning. Her knowledge of psychology is amazing for her time. She understood all too well that we are so often racked with grief, guilt, fear. So often seeking for some structure in our lives; so often failing to find our path. She points out that the Creator God is looking after us, always waiting to enter our world if we would only give the invitation. We are of course perfectly free to view all that as just rubbish, but even the atheist has a structure of belief, albeit one that has a major inconsistency. At least the agnostic is hopefully struggling to make sense of wherein can be found meaning. So Mechtild is lifting us up emotionally and metaphysically in her words.
It is St. Thomas Aquinas who refers us to an Eternal Law that directs everyone to a Common Good. This is where we instinctively feel that there is some sort of linkage with others, and therefore some sort of appropiate responsibilities. As we are individuals as well as linked, our understanding of what is an "appropiate responsibility" will vary dramatically. This is basically because of our misuse of primarily the virtue of Justice, a virtue which is founded on Love, not on cold regulations. It is our particular understanding of GOOD, which underlies all planning of action by our reason. Therein lies our deficiency as humans. It is why a highly tuned sense of conscience is so necessary. So developing our sense of the moral, and assessing carefully our use of reason in each circumstance will lead us slowly to a better and happier life. Monastic communities for centuries have actioned development programmes for their monks. We, in our secular society do not have the necessary time to reflect,except minimally. But we can at least zero in on one action for helping to activate the Common Good, however quietly. So, let us challenge ourselves each day to do that.
Thank you, Tom Baxter