Never Take Freedom for Granted

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An Everyday Stewardship Reflection for the Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time 2016

1731 Freedom is the power, rooted in reason and will, to act or not to act, to do this or that, and so to perform deliberate actions on one’s own responsibility. By free will one shapes one’s own life. Human freedom is a force for growth and maturity in truth and goodness; it attains its perfection when directed toward God, our beatitude.

1738 Freedom is exercised in relationships between human beings. Every human person, created in the image of God, has the natural right to be recognized as a free and responsible being. All owe to each other this duty of respect. The right to the exercise of freedom, especially in moral and religious matters, is an inalienable requirement of the dignity of the human person. This right must be recognized and protected by civil authority within the limits of the common good and public order.

– from the Catechism of the Catholic Church

For those of us that are Americans, we must never take for granted the freedom we enjoy to worship and to believe as we desire. God has given each human being the free will to shape one’s life. There are many places in the world that seek to limit or destroy that free will. At times, even our own country risks curtailing those freedoms because of political agenda or blindness to the Truth.

Good stewardship demands we not only give thanks for that freedom, but we use it to grow in faith and maturity. How can we not fully live out our faith in freedom when there are others in this world that have no way of expressing their beliefs? Once we grow in our faith and become mature disciples, we need to recognize the need to fight for all of our human brothers and sisters that they may enjoy the same freedom that we do. We must not count the cost in this struggle, for the cost involved with doing nothing may be even greater.

For all those in the US, Have a blessed and safe July 4th Weekend!

Do You Know Jesus?

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Today’s Gospel reading from Matthew includes perhaps the most important question of all time: Jesus asks Peter, and in turn you and me, “Who do you say that I am?” Jesus wasn’t interested in hearing what everybody else was saying about him. He wanted to hear from Peter’s own mouth, “Who do YOU say that I am?”

Our understanding of Jesus can be molded by many influences: going to Mass, Bible studies, our own reading and study. The picture in our mind can be shaped by popular movies and books. Even what we believe Jesus asks of us can be informed by various preachers and teachers we trust.

But at the end of the day, Jesus asks us, “Who do YOU say that I am?” If we attend Church on Sundays and claim to be Catholic or Chrsitian because that’s what our parents did or that’s what we have always done, then I wonder what the true answer to the question can be. At some point in time, you have to intentionally decide for yourself. You can’t lean on parents, Church, or circumstances forever. Those are important parts of our life and certainly we come to know who Jesus is through these, especially the tradition and doctrine of the Church. But is your answer to the question one that you been trained to give or is it one that you know deep in your heart to be true? Do you follow a Christ that has been presented to you over time, or do you follow the Christ with whom you have an authentic relationship?

Before you set out on this journey of a stewardship way of life, you better have a good answer to the question Jesus asks, “Who do YOU say that I am?” This journey is not always easy, but if you truly know who it is that you are following, you will find the endurance and fortitude to carry on. If the person you follow is only construct of all the things you have heard about Him, then you are more likely to fall to the side of the road.