You will know the truth and the truth will set you free. John 8:32
If freedom merely consists in choice, then surely being a fresher at uni is the freest we’ll ever be. There can’t be many other situations in which so many different opportunities are available in one go. The rather overwhelming experience of fresher’s fair, walking past hundreds of stalls, from Lindyhop Dancing and Quidditch to careers advisors and charities, can quickly create an impression of ultimate freedom: you can do whatever you want.
This impression can reach beyond just what you want to do. A completely new environment, surrounded by people you’ve never met, experiences you’ve never encountered, suggests you can not only do whatever you want, but be whoever you want.
However, reality quickly kicks in. Being faced with a countless array of opportunities, and being situated in a completely unfamiliar environment, is not an easy place to find freedom. If freedom merely consisted in choice, then perhaps being a fresher is the best place to find it. But a genuine, authentic freedom, a freedom to direct our lives according to the way we see fit, lies in something far deeper than choice.
Our ultimate freedom lies in knowledge of the truth. It is when we know what is right, when we know our own purpose and our own desires, when we know what we really want to do and who we really want to be, that we begin to find freedom. The easiest decisions we make are the ones where the right option is the most obvious. The hardest decisions are those where we are most lost about what to do. The range of choices is irrelevant, our freedom lies in how close we have come to attaining the truth.
But how can searching for the truth turn from an abstract ideal to a concrete reality? It is all very well saying that you’ll be free when you know the truth, but getting there is hardly straightforward. Knowing what is right, knowing our own purpose and our own desires, knowing what we want to do and who we really want to be, are the questions that define a lifetime. They’re far too daunting to address directly.
The abstract ideal becomes a concrete reality in the person of Jesus Christ. The reality is that Christ, fully human and fully divine, took on human flesh and lived on this earth. The reality is that Christ, fully human and fully divine, contains the fullness of truth. If our freedom consists in the truth, and Jesus Christ is, quite literally, the Truth, then evidently our freedom lies in getting to know Christ.
Going about this is not necessarily easy, but it is undoubtedly exciting. Whether it is through prayer, the sacraments, reading the Bible, or our friendships and communities, we have been given so many different ways in which to build a relationship with Christ and come to know him. Christ is waiting for us, longing to reveal to us all that we wish to know, it is only a matter of asking.
Amidst the myriad of commitments we all make at university, there is one that matters most. Get to know Christ, find your freedom, and the rest will fall into place.