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Diocese of Sacramento

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Bishop Jaime Soto

Joy and Hope

by Bishop
Jaime Soto





Discover the true purpose of freedom


“We mutually pledge to each other…” (From the Declaration of Independence, July 1776).


Since its inception America has been a place to which many have come, some running from fear, others seeking opportunity. In one uncertain moment a set of grave circumstances governed by providence brought together an assembly of representatives from the various colonies who boldly proposed forming a new union based upon a social contract.


That contract was founded upon the common belief that certain truths were 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.”


What was affirmed and signed in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776 by that band of revolutionaries came from the recognition of a sacred trust between the creator and his children. The events leading up to the signing of the Declaration of Independence were removed from mere accident or unforeseen coincidence. There was a common recognition of the sacred duty that was before them to forge a new society based upon self-evident as well as sacred truths. The eloquence of that declaration still rings with the same awe and gravity it did 233 years ago.


It behooves us to celebrate this Independence Day with that same grateful recognition of the sacred trust which is ours. The blessings of liberty and the bounty of opportunities we enjoy as a nation are not the result of mere accident or a necessary consequence of history. God’s wise providence has blessed us.


Like every generation of Americans before us, we must choose to accept this sacred trust that binds us to one another and to the creator who has brought us together. We do not own this heritage. We are its stewards for this time and place. We can not squander this precious legacy in vain desires or distorted notions of freedom for its own sake.


Too many sacrifices have been made and are still being made to think that freedom is only intended for one’s own pleasure or for one’s own gain. God has endowed us with liberty so that we could be free to love and to seek our heart’s true desire. Freedom and liberty are ultimately sacred gifts because they enable us to give ourselves freely and so return to God the love he has so generously given to us.


What was so self-evident to the forgers of independence has been put into question by many people and many of the same institutions that rose from those initial struggles to build this nation. That all persons are created equal, that life is an inalienable right, are being challenged or obscured.


The meaning of happiness and its true attainment has been distorted. Much of this is the result of a demeaning of liberty. Freedom has become an end in itself. To be free means to be disengaged, disinterested, unencumbered by obligation or responsibility. This devious notion of liberty leads us from the freedom to love to the fear to love, the fear to give of oneself.


We discover the true purpose of freedom around the eucharistic altar of sacrifice. To celebrate the Fourth of July as people of faith we should rest our hearts and our souls on that altar confident that Jesus is the one who entwines us into that sacred trust between the creator and his children. He has loved us freely and eagerly pledged himself to us so we might know the true meaning of human freedom and learn to love like the divine creator.


Let us pledge ourselves again to this sacred trust and ask the Lord Jesus to make us worthy of this sacred covenant of love given in freedom.


Joy and Hope Columns