Independence Day Homily
We join with the rest of our brothers and sisters (over 300 Million) in celebrating Independence Day. I am happy and thankful that you come here today to celebrate the Holy Eucharist with us as we give praise and thanks God for the gift of freedom, freedom not just from foreign control but also freedom from sin.
The fourth of July is a day of parades, political speeches, fireworks and back yard barbecues, etc. But most of all it is a day of celebrating our Independence; an independence which was won and is maintained by the sacrifice of many lives. We are celebrating an Independence that is not absolute. Adam, the first man, thought that he had Absolute Independence and we are still suffering from the effects of it. Only God has Absolute Independence.
Our Independence is rooted in our Dependence on God. We are contingent, dependent beings. An independent creature is an intrinsic impossibility. Not even God can create an intrinsic impossibility. God can create a square and God can create a circle but not even God can create a squared circle. It is an intrinsic impossibility. That is why the First Commandment is also the greatest Commandment (You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind). Only if we are completely dependent on God we can enjoy freedom. Either we are dependent on God or we will be dependent on some creatures.
This dependence on God is clearly stated in our Declaration of Independence. It begins like this, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, and that they are endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights…” And it ends “with a firm reliance on Divine Providence we pledge our lives, our fortunes and our honor…”
Our nation was founded on belief in God. The President takes his oath of office by placing his hand on the Bible, the Word of God, and ends with, “So help me God.” In our pledge of allegiance we say, “One nation under God.” Engraved on our money is “In God we trust.” Our Congress has a chaplain, begins each session with a prayer, and provides for hundreds of chaplains for the Military.
Our Founding Fathers may have opted for a separation of Church and state but not for a separation of God and state. There is no brotherhood of man without the Fatherhood of God. The division of life into the sacred and the secular is a false dichotomy. There is not now, there never was and there never will be the purely secular, that is, anyone or anything which is not dependent on God. Atheistic capitalism would suffer the same fate as atheistic communism.
What the Constitution guarantees is not freedom FROM religion but freedom OF religion, freedom to practice religion. The irony, the contradiction, is that those who are pushing for freedom FROM religion are actually pushing THEIR OWN RELIGION, which is secular humanism.
In secular humanism the Supreme Being is man, greedy, lustful, proud man. But which man? There are more than seven billion of them in the world each claiming to be independent. These Supreme Beings are the creators. And they are creating rugged individualism, corruption, addictions, war and terrorism. There is nothing as inhuman as secular humanism.
As we celebrate the Birthday of our nation, let us not be fooled. We must believe what is true. We must firmly resist what is not true. We must not grow tired or despair of prevailing in the battle. We must educate others by our words and our example. We must pray with conviction, perseverance and hope so that our generation and future generations will continue to live freely – free to follow God’s will and free for all people of religious conscience.
If we are truly to celebrate this day we must celebrate authentic freedom, freedom that Jesus Christ gave us on the Cross by freeing us from sin. Freedom is not the ability to do whatever we want, for this is license that leads to licentiousness, permissiveness, and all sorts of evils. Freedom is the ability to choose the good so that we are free to love God above all things and love our neighbor as ourselves. We must recognize our responsibility to let freedom ring in our legislatures and courts by enacting laws that will not attack but defend our capacity to do good.