As usual, I am a bit behind! I invite you to recall our Bible reading from Mass last Sunday. Saint Paul instructs: "For freedom Christ set us free, so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery."
Good advice as we celebrate our freedom this Fourth of July weekend.
Pope Saint John Paul II taught, "Genuine freedom is the ability to do what we ought, not whatever we want."
People often confuse freedom with licentiousness, the chance to do whatever we want, when we want, where we want, with whomever we want ...and get out of my way so I can "be myself!"
Saint Paul wisely cautions us that those who equate freedom with such permissiveness become slaves to passion, whims, and the almighty self-will.
So authentic liberty would be...
Freedom from sin, not a green light to sin;
Freedom to love and obey God, not fashion, inordinate urges, or fads of culture;
Freedom to be responsible, not reckless;
Freedom to give, not just to get;
Freedom to give back, not to be spoiled and entitled;
Freedom to exercise our religion publicly, not hide it under a bushel basket;
Freedom to conquer sin, selfishness, and evil, not revel in it.
No wonder those patriarchs who founded this country—like John Adams, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson—were firm that only a vibrant sense of religion, and a basic sense of right and wrong—they called it "natural law"—embedded within us, could keep this noble experiment in ordered liberty and democracy from turning into mob rule, or an "anything goes" society.
Billy Graham remarked that, "When we forget God, we also forget what is most noble and good in our nature."
Culture now considers faith and religion oppressive, controlling, shackling, keeping us in slavery.
The Bible, Saint Paul, and our founding fathers would very much claim culture has it backwards.
Blessed Fourth of July!