Last night I watched the Boston Pops 4th of July concert and fireworks display from the comfort of my home. As the orchestra played one patriotic song after another and the crowd sang along, I couldn’t help but reflect on the gift of freedom.
One line from “America, the Beautiful,” always puts a lump in my throat:
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!
Our soul as a nation desperately needs self-control (a fruit of the Holy Spirit), and our liberty is indeed confirmed in law, the law of God. The lump in my throat comes from reflecting on how far we have strayed as a nation from the law of God, wherein lies our freedom.
I recently ordered “Freedom to Love”, a video course for college aged men and women on Pope John Paul’s Theology of the Body presented by Christopher West. In the second segment of the course, he talks about freedom. True freedom, he contends, is not the ability to choose to do whatever we want, but rather, the ability to choose rightly.
My dad used to say to me and my siblings as we were growing up, “You are most free when you’re doing what you’re supposed to do.” We always hated hearing him say that. But, the older I get, and the more I observe the world around me, the more I agree.
I sometimes think that living in a culture where slavery does not exist we can lose sight of that which truly binds us. I’ve known people addicted to alcohol and drugs, pornography and gambling, pursuit of power and money. They are free in the eyes of the world, but are they truly free, a slave to no one or no thing? No, in fact, they are slaves to their passions.
Jesus said, “I have come so that you might have life and have it more abundantly.” (Jn 10:10) He does not want us to live in slavery but in the freedom of a son, “A slave does not remain in a household forever, but a son always remains. So if a son frees you, then you will truly be free.” (Jn 8:35-36). The secret: “…remain in my word…you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Authentic freedom is rooted in Truth.
The Church’s teachings on sexuality evoke the loudest cry. Let’s face it, not too many people will argue about the Church’s teaching on feeding the poor, but bring up premarital sex, birth control, or abortion, and you’ve got another kettle of fish. Because my girls were adopted and know their birth families, the topic of sex arose early. Explaining to my daughter that she grew in another’s belly raises quite a few questions which require answers. I needed to be very delicate, though, because I didn’t want them, in any way, to think poorly of their birthmoms, but rather, to understand that God has something better for all of us. I explained, “I remember thinking when I was younger that the purpose of God’s law was only to put us down & keep us in our place, but that’s not so. Both birthmoms experienced great pain in giving birth and letting go. They knew they wanted to give more than they could give; it was really hard and they suffered. God wants what’s best for us. He wants to help us avoid suffering. That’s why God’s plan for sex is in marriage because that’s the best thing for everyone involved. God’s laws protect and guide us so that we will choose the greater good.”
And so it is with all of us. God wants the best for us. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that because we are subject to our passions; we don’t want to let go. Letting go and surrendering our passions to the lordship of Jesus is the only thing that brings true freedom.
So, today, I invite you to join me in praying for our country to seek authentic freedom in the teachings of Jesus, to grow in our ability as a nation to choose rightly, and to seek the Truth which sets us free.
My Jesus, I trust in You! Anne