Giving thanks for liberty
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus,
As we celebrate our nation’s 239th anniversary of Independence, it is good to renew our thanks to our fellow Americans who have made sacrifices so that we could enjoy the experience of freedom.
Even as we enjoy and give thanks for our liberty, we are in the midst of a crisis of freedom. The crisis of freedom in our country – and in other western nations – is the pervasive practice of exercising freedom apart from a personal relationship with God (as He has revealed Himself). In our time, many people do not really consider God to be God anymore. It is common for people to live and make decisions as if God does not exist or what God wills does not matter. This practice is the result of thinking that Faith in God and what He wills does not need to form one’s personal mind and decisions. Furthermore, there is a common practice that when it comes to matters of Christian Faith and Moral decisions, God does not provide consequences for decisions and behaviors that are contrary to His will. These attitudes and practices are completely contrary to what Jesus teaches through Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. Recall the parable of the separation of the sheep and goats (Mt 25:31-46). St. Paul wrote in his letter to the Philippians 2:12-16:
“So then, my beloved, obedient as you have always been, not only when I am present but all the more now when I am absent, work out your salvation with fear and trembling. For God is the one who, for his good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work. Do everything without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine like lights in the world, as you hold on to the word of life, so that my boast for the day of Christ may be that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.”
St. James wrote about the essential connection between our Faith in God and our actions (James 2:14-26): “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead. Indeed someone might say, “You have faith and I have works.” Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works.
You believe that God is one. You do well. Even the demons believe that and tremble. Do you want proof, you ignoramus, that faith without works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar?You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by the works. Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called “the friend of God.” See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by a different route? For just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.”
It is not easy to follow the will God. The sure sign of following God is the acceptance of His teachings on right and wrong and His authority in one’s life. This acceptance, through the gift of Faith, is manifested in our works – what we do and refuse to do.
Many people in our times are confused about what it means to believe in God. Like Abraham, our personal and communal belief in God must give rise to a commitment to obey His commandments and teachings as given through the Church He founded. This, in turn, will give us strength to give witness to others – that is to be ‘lights in the world’. Be not afraid, for the Light of Christ will show the way not only for us, but for our country and whole world! Through the intercession of the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, St. Joseph, St. Paul and St. Michael, may our Lord grant His mercy upon all people!
In Christ through Mary, Fr. Kasel