As we saw in our last post, obedience to God is a duty for the Christian whose fulfillment is found in eternal life. But the fruit of holy living is found not only in the next life, but also in this, as JPII says in VS §13:
The commandments thus represent the basic condition for love of neighbour; at the same time they are the proof of that love. They are the first necessary step on the journey towards freedom, its starting-point. “The beginning of freedom”, Saint Augustine writes, “is to be free from crimes… such as murder, adultery, fornication, theft, fraud, sacrilege and so forth. When once one is without these crimes (and every Christian should be without them), one begins to lift up one’s head towards freedom. But this is only the beginning of freedom, not perfect freedom…” [Emphasis in original]
Love for our neighbors is the condition of freedom. Those who do not love their neighbors—who do not live lives of holiness with respect to their neighbors—have no good reason to expect that they will nevertheless enjoy freedom. A little thought shows the wisdom in the Pope’s remarks. When men do not treat each other with charity, but rather act with wickedness towards each other in murders and thefts and frauds and whatever else, society becomes not just intolerable but impossible. Freedom’s demise comes in the consequent anarchy (if governments do not act to restrain the corruption) or tyranny (if governments act to restrain those who will not restrain themselves).