This is a very similar question to the one that Pilate asks Jesus, ‘What is truth,’ later during his questioning of Jesus. The answers two both questions are linked together as there can be no freedom without acting for the truth. That is, the proper exercise of human freedom can only be done in relation with the truth of the human person – that is, according to who we have created to be by God. Any act that is not true to our human act, while it may be a free act, it is an abuse of the gift of freedom given to us by God. Various laws are designed to guide us along the right path and help us to discern whether or not what we are about to do is truly a good act or not.

 

In the Gospel today Jesus confronts the question of legitimate authority. All sorts of people have and exercise authority in our lives. Jesus makes it clear that when an authority is a legitimate one then we have a duty of obedience to it. It is not simply up to us to decide what we want to do at any particular time. This curbing of absolute freedom can be seen to be the Common Good. It is the Common Good of humanity that recognizes that we cannot have absolute freedom as this would preclude there being any sort of human community to which to belong. Absolute freedom is known by the name, ‘anarchy.’

 

We live in communities because we need the support of one another and we cannot live fully human lives as solitary individuals. It is simply impossible to live without reference to other human beings. Jesus wants us to respect the laws of the society in which we live as long as they are truly moral – no one has an obligation to obey an immoral law or command no matter who is giving it! At the same time, if we want to challenge a particular law we cannot simply express our dislike for it but we must have a reasoned and well organized argument to support our position. This is called, ‘freedom of conscience,’ something at is or at least should be enshrined in any set of laws or national constitutions.

 

Jesus, help me to know what it means to act in a fully human manner, that is according to the human nature with which you endowed us all. Help me to be an example of generosity and care to all other persons I meet.