This is the weekend to think about freedom. The July 4th celebration of Independence Day reminds us of the blessing it is to live in a country that enshrines freedom as one of its foundational values.
One of the freedoms that is of particular importance to us as people of faith is freedom of religion: the freedom to profess and to live according to the teachings of our Catholic faith rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As disciples of the Lord, the Gospel calls us to build the Kingdom of God in this world. Another way to put it is to say that we are commissioned to build the world that God desires, a world of justice and peace.
To build that world, the Church teaches that all human beings have dignity because we are created in the image of God. That means that we are to defend the dignity of life, from the first moment of conception until natural death. We are also to consider the dignity of life in how we resolve conflict, especially when it comes to the use of violence.
As people created in God’s image, the Church teaches that all people have the right to food, clothing, shelter, education, health care and gainful employment. With these rights comes our responsibility to promote a way of life here and throughout the world that guarantees that people will have access to these things. The Church also says that we are to have a preferential option for the poor which means that we are to assess all we do by how we are supporting and caring for those who have the least.
Enjoying the enormous blessing of freedom, as a parish and as a Church we have the responsibility to measure how we use that freedom by how we are building the world that God desires. In the midst of our celebrations may we be renewed in our commitment to help that world blossom.