Browsing Pastor's Corner

The True Independence Day

Apr 21, 2019

The other day I happened to catch for about the 100th time…the movie Independence Day:

The film focuses on diverse groups of people who converge in the Nevada desert in the aftermath of a worldwide attack by a hostile alien race. With the other people of the world, they launch a last-ditch counterattack on July 4—Independence Day.

As I was listening to the speech given by the President prior to launching this counter-attack, I could not help but reflect on the momentous and decisive moment we have arrived at this evening. Here is that speech:

“Good morning. In less than an hour, aircraft from here will join others from around the world. And you will be launching the largest aerial battle in the history of mankind. “Mankind.” That word should have new meaning for all of us today. We can’t be consumed by our petty differences anymore. We will be united in our common interests.

Perhaps it’s fate that today is the Fourth of July, and you will once again be fighting for our freedom… Not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution… but from annihilation. We are fighting for our right to live. To exist. And should we win the day, the Fourth of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day the world declared in one voice: We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight!  We’re going to live on! We’re going to survive! Today we celebrate our Independence Day!”

Freedom and life are inextricably linked…that there is no greater freedom than the right to life…So primary is this freedom…that our Founding Fathers would make this the rock solid foundation upon which this nation would be born…From the Declaration of Independence:

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. For there can be no liberty, pursuit of happiness, nothing without the primary right to live…to exist as the creator so desires we do.

But that freedom came under threat, when in a Garden Paradise, a mighty Dragon once God’s brightest and best Archangel Lucifer, rather than submit to what He perceived as the tyranny of God announced…better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven…though who he and his minions and all angels were meant to serve by way of their allegiance to God is all of us…mankind…not angel-kind...and in his jealous rage…would wage war against Mankind incessantly.

And since then, mankind has been fighting for its right to live and be free, though sadly by often tearing a page from the Devil’s hand-book by depriving that right from others by way of countless wars and abortions. There is no greater interest we hold more in common as mankind than life…not so much its biological purpose as its divine meaning and purpose…for Jesus says  I am the way the truth and the life…He is life…and because He is…we are…

Mankind…yes, that word should truly have new meaning for us tonight and every day because of who and what we celebrate. The eternal Son of God who became the Son of Man so along-side us…He could wage that war against who is our true and common enemy…not each other…but the devil and his cohort of hate-filled demons.  As we are reminded by Saint John from Scripture…why Christ became Incarnate in the first place:

The Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil…and the works of the devil…tempt us to sin…

There is nothing more alien nor contrary to our nature than sin…since it causes destruction, division and threatens annihilation…And this is what Christ came to contend with in our flesh, entering into our human condition so that He could absorb the full impact of Hell’s fury. And there is no greater more fearsome weapon the devil wields against us than the threat of death and our fear of death.  As Saint Paul reminds us:

Now since the children share in blood and flesh, he likewise shared in them, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,j 15and free those who through fear of death had been subject to slavery all their life.

We boast as Americans that we live in the land of the Free…but how free are we really…as if freedom from political oppression is the greatest freedom…or the right to free speech or even freedom of religion…

what about those things we truly want the most freedom from, which threaten our lives with each breath we take more than any dictator could ever do. What about freedom from aging…freedom from terminal illness…freedom from losing someone we love…freedom from heart-break…freedom from violence…freedom from all suffering period!

The one freedom all these other hopes of freedom really come down to is the freedom from dying and death…not even the most benign ruler could impose that…unless it is the King that the Good Thief identified on His wooden throne of the Cross…Remember me, when you come into your Kingdom…

to which the King announces, which is really the first Easter Proclamation…this day you will be with me in Paradise…and this day will last forever…and never again will you know pain, sadness, suffering and never again dying and death…

Yes rage against the power of the devil, rage against the dying of the light, as he tries to roll the stone across our souls…threatening to plunge us into the deepest and most permanent darkness of faithlessness and death…

for Jesus says…I am the light of the world…as the triumphant Easter Candle so beautifully signifies this night scattering that darkness…

Yes…mankind then does have new meaning for us this night…more than mankind…we are now God-kind…For the Son of God became the Son of Man so that with Christ we could be God’s truly liberated and free sons and daughters as Saint Paul so wonderfully reminds us:

For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, “Abba,* Father!”k 16

The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,l 17and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.m

Christ insists that He came so that we might have life and have it more abundantly…which is the power of the Risen Christ…a power we can incredibly access by way of the Holy Eucharist…for as Jesus promises:

“Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. 54Whoever eats* my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.

The whole world, all mankind can then declare with one voice: We are going to live on…we are going to survive…for tonight and for the next 50 days and forever we celebrate our Independence Day…for it is Easter!


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