Deacon on Duty – Endowed by Our Creator
Along with fireworks, cookouts, and countless holiday sale commercials, Independence Day brings to my mind the audacious work of our Founding Fathers when they crafted our Declaration of Independence. With the War for Independence already having been fought for over a year, fifty-six men representing the thirteen colonies approved on July 4, 1776 the document that declared our independence from British rule. The war would rage on for another seven years before the independence declared in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was formally recognized with the signing of the Treaty of Paris.
Most of the signers were Christians which probably explains two sections I would like to highlight. Consider the beginning of the second paragraph, “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.”
Self-evident truths rings of Natural Law. We understand Natural Law as coming from God, that it can be understood through human reason, and everyone is subject to it. All men created equal, equal as we would expect of those created in the likeness and image of God. Endowed by our Creator with unalienable rights, rights that are associated with our human dignity: the right to Life, from conception to natural death; the right to Liberty, to freedom; and the right to pursue Happiness, not given, but free to pursue those things that make us happy without infringing on the rights of others.
Likewise, consider the concluding sentence, “And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”
These fifty-six men mutually pledge to each other that they were in this together. But they were not doing this on their own. They were declaring our independence with a reliance on the protection of divine Providence, God’s plan for them and for us.
Our country is not without its faults, past and present. But we see evidence it was established with noble ideals from God-fearing men. We hear in the Gospel this weekend, God is made known to us by the work of the Son, and so too God was made known to our Founding Fathers through Christ. The prophet Zechariah proclaim in the first reading, “His dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth,” which includes what we call our United States.
Yet with all good things from God the evil one sets out to destroy. The evil one uses to his advantage the latter part of the saying, “United we stand. Divided we fall.” And so, it is through sin and hate, including the sin we know as racism, the evil one works to divide us, that we might fall. This tearing down becomes so much easier when we lose sight of God and his involvement in our lives, even His simplest commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Endowed by our Creator, on the occasion of this most trying and unusual Independence Day weekend, may we, as joyful missionary disciples, with firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor to be forces that unite and not divide.
In the peace of Christ,