we hold these things to be self-evident, that you can be both free and equal; in effect,
that’s an incredible intellectual fastball he just sneaked past us. Everybody since Aristotle
would have thought he was wrong on that. How do you hold together freedom and equality?
Well it seems to be that the way in which you do it, the relative equality that Ken
was talking about, that it is relative, it’s never absolute. And I think that’s, perhaps,
the thing that we have to notice: freedom is not an absolute. Neither is equality an
absolute. Neither is the pursuit of happiness an absolute.
Those are all possibilities that remain open to us for realization. We will realize them
in different ways and to different degrees, depending on our interests, our abilities,
our talents. But we’re never going to be able to be absolutely free and achieve absolute
equality in any society, big or small. You just can’t do it.
And we shouldn’t do it because to absolutize any such quality is to, in a sense, say that
freedom is our experience of God. It’s not. Freedom is a great experience of what it is
to be fully human, but it’s not an experience of God. The experience of God is first and
foremost, least strongly understood as pure and perfect self-gift, as pure and perfect
agape. It’s that which is the measure of our experience of God. It’s there that we come
to grips with the way in which God shapes our lives, and the way in which we experience
God. And it’s rooted in community. It’s something
that only can happen to us when we are in communion with one another. That’s why, of
course, the closing gift of Jesus to his disciples is communion. It’s being brought together
and sharing him and his life by as we share this meal. And in that sharing, we experience
the presence of God.