First Down (July 1, 2018)

Dear Friends,

This Wednesday is the 4th of July, Independence Day. It is a day of picnics, fireworks, grilling and celebrating. I always enjoy the excitement of people of all ages who look forward to seeing a fireworks show. It is loud, colorful and it lights up the sky. People gather at designated places to see the show and law enforcement makes sure that people do not stop on the freeways to see the fireworks. There is something about fireworks that captures our attention.

I hope this holiday will allow our attention to focus on the great gift of freedom. Our lives in this country can be overwhelming with much to do, some things that are important and responsible and other things we choose that takes our attention. These things can cause us to forget the gift of freedom that many of us have and the responsibility we all have to preserve this freedom.

We often see an attitude in people believing they are free to act in any way, as if actions are simply our own and have little regard on how it may affect others. Some choose to ignore the consequences of one’s own actions. Freedom is a gift that first of all comes from God, he desires all humanity to live in freedom: Freedom from fear, hate, lacking basic human needs among other things. We remember the many men and women throughout human history who bravely serve humanity to have freedom, to ensure its gift, and to keep it working for all people. Freedom comes with responsibility. One cannot simply go around and expect freedom to simply happen or think one has rights and there should be no cost in having those rights.

We might want to recall the courage that this country’s first leaders showed in working through the idea that this country will work to honor, defend and preserve this gift of freedom.

In being responsible with our freedom, we can practice making sure our language towards others is kind, compassionate and caring. We can be responsible by driving in a way that is patient, driving safely and courteous. Being responsible is praying for all our elected officials who need the Holy Spirit to guide and protect them from things that do not serve the common good. Being responsible with our freedom is opening our hearts towards those who lack the gift of freedom within our own country and even those from countries who abuse power towards its people.

As our attention turns towards another fireworks show, I hope our attention also turns towards our actions that honor the gift of freedom. May God protect our country and our freedom so that we may model to all humanity what responsible freedom looks like.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Eric