About 10 days ago I was speaking at a service in another large building in London, and I used the phrase about liberty under authority as being one of the ways in which we are structured to live in this country. I tried to suggest that we sit in a hierarchy of authority in this country that is presented in our constitution as beginning with God and cascading downwards through contemporary and historic institutions, with delegated powers, and which gives an environment of liberty, experiment and development in our nation, which is limited by authority and has boundaries.
But the trouble with that is that we always have to ask ourselves about the liberty to do what? About 30 years ago a famous Board of Trade enquiry into a takeover remarked that in that particular transaction everyone asked whether something was legal, and nobody ever asked whether it was right.
So we may have liberty to do all kinds of things, but are they good? Jesus in one of his best known stories, the story of the Good Samaritan, which I won’t repeat to you, because I am sure you all know it”¦ well I am not actually but I am still not going to repeat it to you. The story of the Good Samaritan gives, among other things, a parable of liberty used in association with financial power, to enable health and healing of someone who is wounded and struggling. In that parable liberty is at the service of love and gratuity, a free gift ”“ a picture of Jesus himself, of course, in his relationship to us.