Just this past week we celebrated our country’s independence. It is part of the ancient fabric of our country to be independent. In many ways, this is good. But, it is not the case in everything. We have so many wonderful freedoms in our country that other countries do not enjoy. We have a history of many wonderful and heroic people who gave their lives for the freedoms we enjoy. Yet, with that freedom, sometimes, we have claimed a freedom that a actually enslaves us. What am I writing about? Simply, sin. We have freedom to choose, but what we choose can shackle us to an addiction, a bad habit, an arrogance, a rejection of God’s providence, and can even kill.
Popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis have all spoken about a “radical individualism” which is a disordered expression of our freedom without any consideration of others. “I can do what ever I want” might summarize this extreme. Another is the freedom to define reality and truth. This is found in what is called “relativism.” Yes, we can do many things and invent new ideas. But, we are not the ultimate creators of reality. In fact, more than not, we are discoverers of reality. In that sense, existence is revealing itself to us. Similarly, God is revealing himself to us. The very existence of the Holy Scriptures is essentially evidence of God’s revelation to us. So, we recognize that we are not the creators, for God is the author of it all.
Christians know that morality and truth is found in God. We do not cause ourselves into being, so we are not qualified to decide whatever we want and call it truth. We look to God for the law of truth “written” in nature and that revealed in the Scriptures. The truth is not just an abstract idea. It has been revealed in Jesus who is the Truth incarnate (cf. John 14:6).
So, let us celebrate our country’s independence with thanksgiving. Let us also celebrate that we are in holy dependence on God who is the Author and Lord of all existence, including our very lives. From this appropriate orientation of life, we will find truth and real freedom which does not shackle us in sin. With holy obedience, we strive to do, not our own will, but the will of God. When we have that clear, we are well on our way to being saints.
I pray that this Independence Day weekend has been full of celebration for all the freedoms we enjoy. I also pray that we will be mindful of our dependence on God for our very being and the creation around us.
Fr. William Holtzinger