Saint Paul tells us this weekend, “Brothers and sisters: For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.” Particularly poignant words for us this weekend as we prepare to celebrate our Nation’s birthday, Independence Day, the fourth of July. I guess in many ways the outdoor festivities of parades, grilling and partying along with nighttime fireworks overshadow the reality of July 4, 1776.
It’s important I think that we re-visit the words of that Declaration of Independence which are rooted in a belief in God and in the God-given rights of us all. “…We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…” What our founding fathers set forth upon, was not capricious and not self-serving in an individualistic way. They sought to establish a new order so that our citizens might have life, liberty and pursue happiness.
Saint Paul focuses such pursuit into its most essential dimension. Real happiness does not come from slavery, that is, darkness, evil, sin. Abiding happiness endures only when it is conformed to the Will of God, which is where we find freedom itself. Now in our world, society and country, there is much confusion about happiness and freedom. Even our technology is not able to answer the deepest longings of our hearts. Power, prestige, position, wealth, possessions are all very attractive and alluring. But all of these and all the things surrounding us in this world will pass away, come to an end. What will be left?
Jesus indicates that it is not easy to embrace truth, freedom, real happiness. “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.” “…Follow me.” “…Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” “…No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.” If we are to be true children of God, if we are to be passionately disciples of Jesus, if we are to discover all that God has made us for ~ there is only one way for us ~ embracing the Cross of Christ, offering ourselves selflessly for others, lifting up our sacrifices every day to our heavenly Father.
May we, and all our fellow citizens, draw back from all that attracts and yet does not satisfy. May we recommit our selves to the self-evident truths that come from God Himself. May we let go of personal pursuits of pleasure so as to build up God’s kingdom here, establishing new found ways for peace, hope and joy, defending the most vulnerable among us from conception to natural death. For in the end, the only inheritance we have is that which comes from God and which we return to Him.
God bless you, God love you,