As the 4th of July approaches, we find ourselves attempting to wrestle with what freedom means. No one agrees; there are as many definitions as their are people. It seems that to many, of course, it means freedom in which they say, “I’m an American. Nobody tells me what to do,” a line I heard from a neighbor once who sat in his pick up that had no mufflers at midnight smoking which literally shook my house. Freedom means I can do whatsoever I please.

This is not what St. Paul is talking about. For him, it is a two sided coin: freedom from the yoke of slavery to sin (and aren’t addictions a yoke of slavery?) and freedom “for service to one another through love.” This is at the core of the life lived in the Spirit.

Now, let me say from the outset that this is not easy to let go of all the things that bind me to this earth and this flesh because of desires and pleasures. While these things satisfy, briefly, they are not durable in the long run, and result in a human person, “incorvata in se,” to quote St. Augustine.

In a heavily materialistic and consumeristic world of excess and abundance, it is hard to see beyond these mortal things to consider that the spiritual is more satisfying. We are fed, clothed, and sheltered over the top, and children on our borders are captives in concentration camps of unspeakable conditions and want of human basics for simple dignity. And the so-called, alleged, evangelical Christian (many Catholics included) have little conscience about it.

This will be Jesus’ point in the Gospel this coming Sunday. We take care of ourselves first, then afterwards and our own business satisfied, then we just might think about following Jesus, but in our own interpretation and enculturation of the Gospel suited and cloth cut to bourgeoisie America. That gospel is not The Gospel. Oh, and I’m a guilty as the next.

Alan Hartway

Theological Studies at Catholic Theological Union, Chicago IL; Master of Fine Arts, Poetics, at Naropa University, Boulder CO 1996; Master of Arts, Greek Classics, University of Colorado, Boulder CO 2012; Taught at Naropa University from 1999 through 2015; Chair of Interdisciplinary Studies from 2007-2015; Member of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, Kansas City Province since 1974; Pastor at Guardian Angel Catholic Church, Mead, CO, ministry from 2007-2020 Currently Retired

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