The Fourth of July and St. Paul

The Fourth of July is a most appropriate time to recall a ’discussion’ St. Paul had in his First Letter to the Corinthians. There, in a dialogue form, he hears someone(s) saying to him, "Everything is lawful to me". Paul’s responds, "But I do not want anything to dominate me". He is thinking that one must distinguish why I choose what I do, that I know when what might issue from my will is not really a free choice. There are many situations, e.g., alcholism, wherein a person will say, "I am free to have one drink; it won’t hurt me." We know that story, and many more - they make us careful that a so-called free act is not actually an act by something that dominates me so that in fact I am not free. Paul continues the dialogue: "Everything is lawful to me", only to counter, "Not everything is for my good". We are blessed with freedom, but with a freedom to choose what is truly good for us. Freedom is the tool of the intelligent being, born to choose the good, not be driven to it like animals. The Fourth of July makes us grateful again for freedom. May we reach freedom’s goal, to choose what we learn to be for our good. It is hardly the glory of freedom, the glory of what we have so often fought to protect, when I ’choose’ what actually dominates me and stunts freedom, when I choose freely what is not my real good. John Kilgallen, SJ

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

A youth takes the Eucharist from Monsignor Gregorio Rosa Chavez during a Mass giving thanks for Pope Francis' announcement that Chavez will be elevated to the rank of cardinal, at San Francisco de Asis parish church in San Salvador, El Salvador on Monday, May 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Salvador Melendez)
Rosa Chavez has a reputation as a man of the people, warm and quick to smile.
Fan leaves the Park Inn hotel in central Manchester, England, on Tuesday, May 23, 2017. Over a dozen people were killed in an explosion following a Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena late Monday evening. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)
Pope Francis sent his condolences and prayers to all those affected "by this senseless act of violence" in Manchester, England.
In this photo taken May 19, 2017, a GPO worker stacks copies of "Analytical Perspectives Budget of the U.S. Government Fiscal Year 2018" onto a pallet at the U.S. Government Publishing Office's (GPO) plant in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
The budget’s moral measure will be assessed by “how well it promotes the common good of all,” the bishops write.
Kevin ClarkeMay 22, 2017
A veteran activist provides a blueprint for creating a movement in the moment of Trump.
Nathan SchneiderMay 22, 2017