Today, in the United States, we celebrate our independence from Britain. The whole basis for the Revolutionary War was for a desire to be a free and independent nation in the New World. As Americans, we wanted to chart our own course. We wanted the freedom to make our own decisions; our own mistakes. Yet, what we really wanted was authentic freedom, which is different from a freedom that allows us to do whatever we want.
Gaudium et spes defines authentic freedom as follows:
Only in freedom can man direct himself toward goodness. Our contemporaries make much of this freedom and pursue it eagerly; and rightly to be sure. Often, however, they foster it perversely as a license for doing whatever pleases them, even if it is evil. For its part, authentic freedom is an exceptional sign of the divine image within man. For God has willed that man remain ‘under the control of his own decisions,’ so that he can seek his Creator spontaneously, and come freely to utter and blissful perfection through loyalty to Him. Hence man’s dignity demands that he act according to a knowing and free choice that is personally motivated and prompted from within; not under blind internal impulse, nor by mere external pressure. Man achieves such dignity when, emancipating himself from all captivity to passion, he pursues his goal in a spontaneous choice of what is good, and procures for himself through effective and skillful action, apt helps to that end. Since man’s freedom has been damaged by sin, only by the aid of God’s grace can he bring such a relationship with God into full flower (GS 17).
Authentic freedom means turning away from sin and turning toward God. It means choosing the eternal Good over the impulsive evil of the moment. When we were born, God gave us an intellect and free will, with the expectation to use both wisely. Yet, sometimes, we get caught up in a recurring sin; thinking, at the moment, that it is a true good, when in reality it is only an apparent good. We get misled by the evil one. Therefore, it’s at times like these that we need to use our intellect and free will and turn toward God, asking Him to forgive us and reacquaint us with authentic freedom.
As we celebrate our independence today, we need to take an honest look at where we are at as a country. In my humble opinion, we are grasping at “apparent goods,” dangled in front of us by the evil one. Some of those apparent goods are:
- Tax cuts that doesn’t seem to be flowing to the masses.
- The appointment of numerous conservative judges, at the expense of our moral values on all other fronts.
- Moral relativism, at the expense of objective truth
When we attach ourselves to these apparent goods, we are embracing sin. How so?
Apparent Good #1
Well, we are looking out for ourselves, first, if it means a tax cut for our own family, at the cost of disregarding the needs of others. Jesus said, “whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matt 25:40). How does money in our own pockets help those less fortunate, if we fail to share our good fortune with others?
Apparent Good #2
Appointing conservative judges who align themselves with God’s Natural Law is a good thing. However, if we are willing to look the other way to make this happen, as support programs for the needy get slashed, or environmental regulations are removed on behalf of the energy industry, how can we justify such behavior to God? He told us to take care of the widow and the orphan (James 1:27); not just the unborn! He told us to take care of the environment He gifted to us (Gen 1:28-31). It’s an “all in” philosophy with God; not a pick and choose cafeteria plan.
Apparent Good #3
When did lying to the American public become acceptable, at the expense of objective truth? Why do we allow such lies, with no accountability, from our current President? We bargain away objective truth when we morally justify his behavior and policies, for some other apparent good. This needs to stop. We need to be reminded of what Jesus said, “you will know the truth and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).
Finding Our Authentic Freedom
On this Independence Day, find your authentic freedom by embracing objective, verifiable truth. Use your intellect and free will to determine this truth. Then, speak up to share that truth with others; for the echoes of lies are running rampant within our society today.
New American Bible, 2000-2001 Ed. Wichita: Fireside Bible Publishers, 1970. Print.
Second Vatican Council. Gaudium et spes. Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World. 7 Dec. 1965. Vatican City: Vatican.va. Web 1 Mar. 2017.
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