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The Fourth of July and Our Faith

Back on June 22nd I wrote about St. John Fisher, St. Thomas More and the “Fortnight for Freedom.”  That “Fortnight for Freedom” began on June 21st.  It ends today on July 4th, the day we, in the United States, celebrate our nation’s independence.

Freedom is an important concept.  Freedom needs to be taken very seriously.  Many might interpret this to mean I think it is important that we allow people to be free to choose to live their lives as they wish.  That is not entirely true.  I hope all would agree that one’s freedom ends with harm is clearly caused to another.

Freedom is something God gives us.  God allows us to choose to do whatever we want.  We call it “free will.”  The thing that we seem to forget is that with this freedom comes great responsibility.  We are free to choose what we want but with our choices come consequences.

Today’s first reading tells of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.  This is a familiar biblical story to many.  The cities are destroyed for their sins.  God had allowed them to choose their way in live and they had chosen sin.  For these, they suffered the consequences.

One might ask, “If God was going to destroy them for sinning, then why didn’t He just not allow them to sin?”  That would mean taking away their free will.  That, in turn, would mean taking away their ability to love.  If we have no “free will” then everything we do is by dictate.

Do I think God is going to start destroying whole cities for their sins?  No, but two points here.  I wonder how much we destroy ourselves by the earthly consequences of our sins.  Some think society is getting better with all the moral freedoms that are allowed today.  I don’t.  I think society is getting worse.  There are more broken families.  There is great conflict in our government and between our people.  There is more terrorism.

Secondly, while God does not destroy cities in this world because of sin, at the time of our death, we will be judged for the way we live our lives.  There is a Heaven and there is a Hell.  Is God merciful?  ABSOLUTELY!  But we have to try and live good lives.  We have to learn how it is that God calls us to live.  We might fall short but then we count on God’s mercy who knows the desires of our hearts.  If we don’t even try, then we must submit to the eternal judgment and accept that might bring eternal damnation in Hell.

I started with the mention of our “Fortnight for Freedom”.  Those who advocate for the “freedoms” that go against our faith think we should be forced (see my homily for June 25, 2017) to provide procedures, medications, etc. that violate our faith.  This is where it must stop.  If they believe they should have the freedom to do what they want, shouldn’t we have the same?  How can they force us to go along with their ‘beliefs’?

Seeing how society is going leaves me feeling down at times.  Right now there is something going on that is giving me hope.  It’s called a “Convocation of Catholic Leaders.”  It will end today in Florida.  It was organized by our United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) on the theme from Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel.  I have watched some of it on EWTN.  Seeing the joy of faith in people’s hearts.  Hearing some of the bishops, archbishops, and cardinals speak from their hearts has helped to feel hope in my heart.  I thank all who had a hand in making this convocation possible.

In today’s gospel, the disciples are in a boat with Jesus in a terrible storm and he calms the waters.  We face a great storm today from the consequences of the choices that people have made with freedom.  We must face this storm but Jesus is right here in the boat with us.

Today is July 4th, the day we celebrate our independence as a nation.  It is a day of freedom and I choose to use my freedom to follow God.

Peace,

Fr. Jeff

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