God's gracious love is a liberating love, intent on setting us free from whatever is holding us bound. This may be freedom from various forms of addiction, such as the ones discussed with respect to idolatry. It may be freedom from a fear and scarcity mindset that is always trying to acquire a bigger safety net that would assure one a little more security.
Liberation is a major theme in scripture, perhaps most associated with the Israelites' exodus from Egypt and long journey to the Promised Land. They were set free from slavery, although they longed for the security and hearty meals of their captivity as they wandered in the desert (Ex. 16:3). Jesus set people free from whatever was binding them, whether a physical ailment (Lk. 13:10-17), death (Jn. 11:38-44), or condemnation (Lk. 8:1-11). The Pauline epistles emphasize how Christ has granted us freedom from both sin and death (Rom. 6:15-23).
For those who are oppressed by systems of power, loving self may come in the form of standing up to the oppressive systems while supported by the power of the gospel. Liberation theologies—including Latin American, U.S. Black, Feminist, and Asian American—consider the Christian faith from the perspective of the poor and marginalized, emphasizing social justice and human rights. These theologies embrace the suffering and hope found in the struggle of many, rejecting the injustice of the status quo and seeking out the freedom offered by God. Familiar biblical passages can take on very different meanings when considered from the viewpoint of those seeking liberation, as opposed to those in power. The non-violence movement builds on these values, as well as the practices of Jesus, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day, and others.
The voluntary simplicity movement offers additional insights into the liberation and freedom gained by living a simpler lifestyle with fewer possessions. Within the Church, voluntary simplicity is a value evident in vows of poverty and monasticism, but also one promoted by the Catholic Worker movement and Jesuit Volunteer Corps. Having more possessions means needing more effort to clean, categorize, store, and move them. The average size of an American home is larger than ever, but they are more expensive, harder to maintain and keep clean, and more costly to heat or cool. Voluntary simplicity prioritizes people and communities ahead of objects and acquisitions, largely because it is a more fulfilling way to live. It is an example of how placing Sabbath limits on our life can give us greater freedom.
The importance of liberation can be found in other aspects of our faith. The movement of our liturgical cycle through Lent (death) and Easter (resurrection) enacts the process of liberation. The sacrament of reconciliation and the penitential rite ritualize being set free from sin so that we are freer to reach out to others in love.
Practicing Sabbath economics is Good News to everyone, not just the poor. When we embrace gospel values we live freer lives with a greater sense of inner peace. That newfound freedom gives us an opportunity and responsibility to give to others.