It’s Fourth of July weekend which in #Merica means a long weekend full of fireworks and celebrations of freedom. And if you throw it back a few years to my childhood, it would also mean Old Navy American Flag t-shirts. Side note, those should really make a comeback.
Well at least that’s what it means now a days. Back in 1776, it meant signing a piece of paper and hoping to God that they could back it up and win the war, otherwise they were royally screwed. So I guess you can say some progress has been made in the past 241ish years.
But as we are in this weekend of celebrating American Independence from British rule, I can’t help but reflect on how freedom is a weird thing. Maybe not necessarily freedom itself, but modern day perception of freedom.
And I understand that freedom has many definitions. It means not being imprisoned or enslaved, not being under the subjugated to the government, having right to think, act or say what you want without being hindered.
And while the last definition is true. It is lacking in giving a clear picture of what freedom actually means. Freedom comes with responsibility. And I know people in general hate responsibility, at least some of the time.
Freedom is a right, but rights come with responsibilities. I know it’s cliche but it’s true.
Pope Saint John Paul the Great (or is it Saint Pope…I can never remember) said,
“Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought.”
How’s that freedom thing sounding now?
I’ll admit, to me at least, it still sounds pretty good. It seems a little bit more difficult, a little taller of an order but still good. Just because we are free to do something, doesn’t mean we should necessarily do it.
And also if you take this quote and if you’re like me, you reach the conclusion that this world offers us a finite sense of freedom, because you know laws, and we can’t actually always do what we like. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. But this world, and our country, limits our freedom. That’s probably a good thing, in most circumstances, but in other circumstances not much. But still the overarching call from JPII is that no matter what freedoms and rights that we are allowed, we are still called to do what we ought, to do what is right.
And now that I’ve established that this world offers only limited freedom. I’m going to break out another JPII quote, because he is awesome and said some pretty amazing stuff during his lifetime.
“Have the courage and humility to present yourselves to the world determined to be holy, since full true freedom is born from holiness.”
God is the source of our freedom.
Boom, end of discussion.
Okay maybe not quite yet.
The world cannot offer us true freedom, only God can do that. The world can try, but there are always going to be limits on it.
Okay, not really. But humanity is limited. Freedom is something that cannot be limited. It is something that should not be limited.
And with God, it’s not.
Like with God, if you mess up and do something that you ought not, He does not take your freedom away. He offers you redemption. He died on a cross so that we could be free and that we could be redeemed, even when we fail.
With this world, if you mess up and do something that you ought not, as determined by laws, your freedom is stripped from you. And maybe you get a shot a redemption and regain that freedom, maybe you don’t, and maybe that is done in a very arbitrary way. But even if those people never regain their earthly freedom, they can still have true freedom.
The ultimate freedom comes from knowing and loving Christ. It comes from striving for holiness. It comes from attaining holiness.
So be holy, so you can be free.