July brings the celebration of the United States as it’s own nation. We come together as family and friends to enjoy a picnic, fellowship, and, if we’re lucky, a dip in the pool to cool off. There may be parades where we cheer the veterans who have served our country. Some may remember those who paid the ultimate price to protect the country by giving their life. Perhaps, the true cost of freedom was paid by the sacrifice on Calvary.
The Declaration of Independence acknowledges three gifts that most know by heart: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Over 240 years ago, the founding fathers released this document that put into action a revolution from which the United States would emerge. They acknowledged God as the giver of these gifts. I’ve heard it mentioned that the order matters. You can’t pursue happiness if you don’t have your freedom (liberty) or your life. In a way, the document reminds us of the creation. God created Adam and Eve — that is He gave them life. He gave them the freedom to choose to do His will or their own by asking them to care for the garden and not to eat the fruit of one tree. Otherwise, they were to pursue their happiness by living in communion with God and the rest of His creation. Instead they put their pursuit of happiness above their relationship with God and thus impacted both their life and liberty.
God did not leave man on his own. He patiently gathered the tribe of Israel to teach them His ways and prepare for His Son to pay the price of that first and every sin. Jesus’ pursuit of happiness was to reconcile creation back to the Father through the forgiveness of man’s sins. This journey brought Him to the cross on Calvary, where He gave His very life for us all. The liberty He chose was to free us from our sins so that we can have a opportunity to pursue a relationship with God, both on earth and in heaven. We always have the freedom to choose: to do God’s will or our own. Now when we are sorry for those times we choose to do our will instead of God’s, we can return to a relationship with Him through the sacrament of reconciliation.
Let us give thanks to our creator, not just for our country, but those three precious gifts He gives to each of us. Let us not take our freedom for granted, but look to do the will of God and thank Jesus for paying the price for us.