As we in the United States celebrate the 236th anniversary of our Declaration of Independence from England, we might pause a moment to reflect on the true meaning of freedom. Today is a day to celebrate political independence, but true freedom, we know as Christians, comes from the salvation of Christ.
The Church in the United States offers a special Mass today, and the opening prayer emphasizes this true meaning of freedom:
God of love, Father of us all, in wisdom and goodness you guide creation to fulfillment in Christ your Son. Open our hearts to the truth of his gospel, that your peace may rule in our hearts and your justice guide our lives.
The readings for today (Isaiah 9:1-6; Philippians 4:6-9; and Matthew 5:1-12) echo this theme: The man who lives his life in accordance with the will of God and through faith in Christ knows true freedom. The same, as Isaiah makes clear, is true of nations.
In between the hot dogs and the fireworks, it's worth taking a look at those readings and explaining them to our children. Political freedom is a blessing, but it stems from an even greater blessing: the moral freedom that Christ bought for us when He sacrificed His life on the Cross.