I know, I know, it’s a little late. But still… By the way, I used Archbishop Dolan’s blog post on Independence Day for some inspiration. Lots and lots of inspiration…
Does anybody know what day the 4th of July is in Moscow? Sorry, that’s a trick question. The answer is: it’s the 4th of July! (Just making sure you’re awake.) The 4th of July is just a day, but to us Americans, it means much more than that. It’s an opportunity to thank God for the abundant blessings that he has bestowed upon us, and on our country. If you look around the world, it’s easy to pick out nations where instead of peace, and freedom, and prosperity, they experience war, oppression, hunger, persecution, sickness, and suffering. And so we find ourselves being thankful for the blessings we have as Americans. Despite the struggles our nation finds itself in at this particular time, we’re thankful for what we have.
One of those things that we’re thankful for, especially today, is liberty. In fact, today is even called “Independence Day.” But sometimes, although we Christians have a great love for our country, we find ourselves in a difficult place with how American values interact with our faith. Liberty or independence can sometimes devolve into license, and becomes the freedom to be able to do what I want. Sometimes the things that we profess as part of our faith seem to be at odds with freedom or independence. For example, we hear that being a servant is the pathway to heaven, but what about our country’s value of liberty from servitude? We hear that the last will be first, but what about American prosperity and opportunity? We constantly hear of the Lordship of Christ or the Kingship of Christ, but what about the fact that we’re a kingless nation, where all of us are kings? Lots of these things don’t really tie up well with our sense of independence. Sometimes the view of our independence, whether we realize it or not, can be an independence from God. Rather than being independent, therefore, we become overly dependent on ourselves! Rather than being free, we’re caught in the shackles of our own pride and selfishness!
But really, it’s being dependent on God where we find ourselves most independent. It seems strange, but depending on God allows us freedom. It’s not necessarily the freedom to do what we want, but it is the true freedom to be able to do what we ought. It is the freedom to do as we’ve been shown by Christ, the freedom to love others freely and without reservation. So really, while we celebrate our independence as a nation, maybe this calls us to look at our own lives and see how dependent we are on God. Where do we turn when we find ourselves in difficult times? Do we turn to God, or to ourselves? Where do we turn when we find ourselves in the midst of failure? Where do we turn when we find ourselves in the midst of success?
May God continue to bless us with a true and beautiful understanding of our independence. May he call us to those noble virtues that made this country what it is for us and for future generations of Americans. May God bless us with peace, prosperity, and the common good. And may God bless America.