isten now to a word about freedom, O insatiable champion of the honorable cross and golden freedom. All realities have their unalterable and inalienable names. But on earth these names are extended also to symbols of those realities, and even to symbols of symbols, because of the inability of the tongue to be restrained and because of the visual weakness of men. Thus the word "freedom" has been extended to many relationships and many circumstances among the people on earth. I shall first tell you what should already be clear to you. When the external freedom in a nation is transformed into the serfdom of one kinsman to his closest kinsman, and is defiled by a nameless tyranny of one man over another, which continues unpunishable by the law of that land then the Almighty, the Compassionate, takes away the freedom of such a nation and casts it into the school of servitude, so that it may learn to recognize and appreciate freedom. Is this not clear to you, noble Prince?"
Lazar replied: "Truly you are telling me things that should be clear to every intelligent man."
Thereupon the angel continued: "Golden freedom, however, is closely tied to the honorable cross. Through the honorable cross, golden freedom was revealed to men. For gold is a symbol of truth. Golden freedom therefore means freedom that is true and unchangeable. We immortal spirits have the freedom in the heavenly kingdom this internal spiritual freedom. When someone among mortals acquires this freedom, he, and he alone, is truly free. He is free of worldly cares and cravings; free of delusions of worldly glory and fleeting fame; free of the world, of men, of demons; free also of himself, of his lower, unspiritual being. Bearing this golden freedom in his breast, he feels free whether he is living in external freedom or external slavery. This freedom cannot be increased by his country being free any more than it can be decreased by his country being deprived of its freedom. It is a treasure hidden within the soul, a treasure which thieves cannot steal, tyrants cannot destroy, fire cannot burn, and death cannot annihilate. True freedom is freedom whether one is in a prison or in a palace. Without it a prison is a tomb and a palace is a prison. Without this internal freedom of the children of God, the freedom of the spirit and the heart, man is always a slave no matter what the external circumstances of his life are. This freedom makes external slavery unbitter and external freedom sweet. It is salt for external freedom, and protects it from abuse and corruption; it is light for external bondage, providing light and warmth to enslaved people.
"Your Lord and ours has told you that you must be like children. Is it not true that children are the freest beings in your human race? Obedience to the will of parents does not so much limit their freedom, as it simply steers them in the right direction. We in the holy heavens of God have this childlike freedom, for we are also children, and we do whatever we wish with the joyful knowledge that only the love and wisdom of the all-seeing heavenly Father encompasses and limits us. Nevertheless, we do not experience this limiting as a restriction or constriction, but rather as a parent protecting his children from falling. Not being free of God, but being free in God this is genuine freedom, freedom that is everlasting, life-creating, joyful, golden. To come to know oneself as being dependent solely upon the Father, the Nourisher and Protector, on the closest Kinsman, on the most faithful Lover this is the most sublime awareness and experience of freedom that the created beings in heaven and on earth can ever know. Gold is gold, whether it is under the feet or on the head. So it is also with golden freedom, whether it is in the heights or in the valleys, in the light of day or in the darkness of night.
"Consider the Son of God, the Child of God, who appeared in the flesh in order to proclaim to fleshly beings the mysteries of eternal life. Of all the children in heaven and on earth, the Son of God was the freest Child. He was free as a woodworker in Nazareth, as a Teacher among the people, and as a bound Slave before the Roman authorities and the Jewish leaders. Not even for one instant was His freedom either bound or loosed. The real slaves were those who were judging Him, spitting upon Him, flogging Him, and crucifying Him. But not even for one moment was He unfree; for he was not for a single moment out of the sight of His heavenly Father and His heavenly fatherland. From heaven He brought His freedom here to men, and He led into this freedom those who understood it and came to love it.
Therefore His apostle speaks to those who have been liberated from the world, from demons, and from themselves: 'Stand in the freedom, with which Christ has set you free.' This apostle, and his companions, and millions of believers in Christ, have felt like free children of God, whether in the city or the wilderness, whether at a laden dinner table or in hunger, whether in chains or among friends. They were all like Him, the Revealer and Bestower of golden, heavenly freedom, the freedom of the children of God in the Home of their Father. For the Spirit of the Father, the Holy Spirit of freedom, had permeated their souls and saved them from every enslavement.
"For this golden and holy freedom you have been fighting and dying, O beloved lover of the kingdom of heaven. The external freedom in your house and in your country, governed by brothers of the same blood and the same faith, is only a symbol of the divine freedom of the soul; a shell that indicates what is within, a moon that tells tales about the sun. Those who do not have this essential golden freedom within themselves, and who struggle only for external freedom, do they not exist as slaves even in their own house, in their own country, governed by brothers of the same blood and the same faith? Is this not delusory freedom, which differs from servitude to another in name only? For such delusory freedom one does not give up his crown, much less his head. Yet you, O Prince, went off to this field, to lay down both your crown and your head for freedom but for that authentic, evangelic freedom.
"Whoever lays down his life for the earthly kingdom, does what the foolish Esau also did he sells his dignity for a bowl of lentils. People usually think of external servitude as a loss. It is indeed a loss, but of what? Not of the soul, but of things, property, authority, and dominions. But if it is not a loss of the soul, it is not a loss in general For everything has remained except the props and the stage, where the soul appears. The soul can superbly act out its dramatic role even without a crowded, furnished stage. If a man has chosen our heavenly kingdom, then every foot of the earth, on which he stands, is for him a superb stage for his role.
"Your two illusory defeats today will be turned into two glorious victories. Your first defeat is the slaughter of yourself and your valiant knights; the second, as a consequence of the first, is the enslavement of your surviving people. For the first defeat you and your valiant knights will receive sainthood in heaven and will be lauded in song on earth. For the second defeat your people will be given spiritual regeneration, internal golden freedom, through a baptism in fire and blood.
"In the eyes of an onlooker bereft of understanding, a man who throws seed onto a field is becoming poorer, because he is emptying his storehouse of grain. The accounting, however, is not made at the time of sowing, but at the time of harvesting. For your people this day has been a great sowing in the field of time. And when they come to harvest the seed which you have sown today, O worthy sower, you will be watching from the heights of heaven, and you will rejoice with ineffable joy.
"It is better to obtain the kingdom of heaven through sacrifice than to obtain the kingdom of this world through wickedness. There is no wickedness on earth or in hell that can outwit the eternal Wisdom of heaven. In many duels this Wisdom has appeared to be beaten in the eyes of those who think that the battle is over. But Wisdom gazes far into the distance, and sees the day of Her victory. When Her adversaries scream victoriously, She silently records Her illusory losses as gains. The arrogant ridicule Her small and unarmed hosts, but in the end they gape, startled and in terror. The arrogant, who rely on themselves, always experience the unexpected, She never. The Wisdom of heaven gives Her adversaries every advantage in battle, and retreats before them as though beaten, but in the end She scatters them like chaff. Her wands crack the iron of her adversaries. Her gentle wave of the hand returns clouds of arrows back toward the archers. With Her thought alone She raises up the fallen and elevates the small. She supports the oppressed and shows compassion to the downtrodden. In Her breath is irresistible power; in Her word is inextinguishable light. "In Her hands are all the ends of the earth." She hovers over the human race like a mother over a child in a crib. Who can oppose Her and remain alive? Into the chalice of free nations She adds bitterness and into the chalice of the enslaved She adds honey; but both the one and the other with careful measure, lest the remedy become poison. She loves those who serve Her; and She competes in serving with Her beloved ones. No one among those created can outplay Her, outmatch Her, or outserve Her. Blessed is the man, who chooses the Wisdom of heaven and Her kingdom.
"However, your time has nearly expired, O Prince and bearer of the fate of your people."