By Paul Kelly - St. Mary's Catholic Church
Last Sunday we celebrated our nation’s independence with parades, fireworks, concerts, barbeques and other social events. The Fourth of July is always a good time to reflect on our freedoms — especially those freedoms enumerated in the first amendment to the constitution: religion, speech, press, assembly and redress of grievances.
Not all notions of freedom are equal. A common notion of freedom is simply doing whatever one pleases. However human experience shows that this simplistic notion of freedom is actually a form of bondage or enslavement. Such false notions of freedom lead to ever growing number of addictions, compulsions and a general lack of selfcontrol that is so vital for the proper functioning of society.
The Christian notion of freedom is so much more fruitful. It believes there is no true freedom except in service of what is good and just. It is not an arbitrary freedom to do what one likes, but the freedom to live in such a way as to allow for the maximum amount of human happiness. The Christian sees in Christ the ultimate meaning of freedom.
“It was for liberty that Christ freed us.” (Galatians 5:1)
One of the greatest speeches made in American history on the topic of freedom was delivered by Rev. Martin Luther King in 1963 at the mall in Washington D.C. His rousing conclusion to the speech used the phrase “let freedom ring” repeatedly.
“Let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire,… from the curvaceous hills of California,…from Stone mountain of Georgia.” While Dr. King was speaking of the freedom of all Americans to participate fully in the rights and opportunities offered by our nation, he closed this portion of his speech with a religious reference, implying that true freedom is ultimately rooted in God himself. He had a vision in which all God’s children, black and white, Jew and gentile, Catholic and Protestant could one day join hands and sing in the words of the spiritual hymn: “Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, I’m free at last.“
As Christians, we have a golden opportunity to model for the world what true freedom looks like by the way we conduct our own lives rooted in the teachings of Jesus.
Let freedom ring!