Independence Day

 In addition to the Scripture Readings from the current weekday in Ordinary Time (for which, click HERE), there are many other options (for which, click HERE).  For the reflection for the weekday in Ordinary Time, click HERE.

Independence Day
July 4, 2019

As we celebrate the Fourth of July, we celebrate one of the things that is nearest and dearest to us Americans:  freedom, or, as our Founding Fathers described it, liberty.  Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness:  after the most fundamental human right—the right to life—comes the human right to liberty.

Liberty (or freedom) is an essential right of every human being.  Freedom is something that is part of our human make-up.  Without freedom, we are less than human.  And without freedom, we cannot faithfully live the moral life that God calls us to.

We can think about Catholic morality with the image of a ship sailing out to sea.  This analogy comes from C. S. Lewis.  Picture this:  in your moral life as a Catholic, you are the first mate on this ship.  This image reflects three different dimensions of Catholic morality.

The first dimension is carried out by keeping your ship in shape:  making sure it’s in working order:  this is personal morality, and is based on the virtues.  The second dimension is when you keep your ship from running into other ships that are out there at sea:  this is social morality, or social ethics.  The third dimension comes from knowing that you are out at sea on a mission.  You’ve been sent out to go somewhere, not just to float around on the waters.  This is our final morality:  the morality that shows us that our everyday choices on this earth are connected to where we will spend eternity.

But none of these three sides of morality—personal, social, or final—makes any sense until we recognize what our human freedom really is, and what it is not.  True human freedom is one of the gifts that come from being created in the Image and Likeness of God.

Christian freedom is something unique.  The union between a human being and God doesn’t mean being absorbed by God, or being controlled by Him.  At every step of our journey towards God, we are fully free:  free to accept God, and free to reject Him.  So ask Him on this day of independence for His grace, in order to be able to accept Him more fully, in order to serve Him more fully:  to serve Him by loving Him, loving all our neighbors, and loving ourselves in an authentic, selfless way.