By Fr. Tom Zelinski, OFM Cap.
Once again we observe Independence Day. The day will be observed in all sorts of ways, some more serious than others. On the surface, it will be a day, a weekend, of picnics, cookouts, beach time, golf, baseball, fireworks. But the reason for the celebration always lingers in the background: the United States declared its independence from Great Britain and fought a war to make that a reality. Since then, our citizens have been proud to proclaim our freedom, our independence. As Christians, we know that Christ has made us free, but free for what? Not to do simply as we please, but free to be who we really are: children of God, living with Christ’s life in us. This is not rugged individualism without regard for others. We are free to be in communion with the Trinity, and therefore with other people. We are free to be loving and compassionate and to do justice.
During the past year, someone cynically said the new spirit of American was becoming “No one can tell me what to do.” If that is what Independence Day means for anyone, that person is headed in the direction of selfishness and a kind of narcissism. All about me. That is hardly the spirit of “All for one, one for all,” or the spirit of the freedom of the children of God. Our freedom is not for selfishness, but is a freedom for sharing and respecting all our brothers and sisters. Happy Independence Day!