Loading
Government cannot take away true freedom, Archbishop Chaput teaches
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput.
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput.
By Benjamin Mann
Facebook Twitter Google+ Pinterest Addthis

.- Government cannot give or take away the ultimate freedom found in obedience to God, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput said at the closing Mass of the U.S. bishops' “Fortnight for Freedom.”

“True freedom knows no attachments other than Jesus Christ,” Archbishop Chaput said in his July 4 homily at Washington, D.C.'s National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

“True freedom can walk away from anything – wealth, honor, fame, pleasure … It fears neither the state, nor death itself.”

“We’re free only to the extent that we unburden ourselves of our own willfulness and practice the art of living according to God’s plan,” Philadelphia's archbishop said. “When we do this, when we choose to live according to God’s intention for us, we are then – and only then – truly free.”

“This is the kind of freedom that can transform the world. And it should animate all of our talk about liberty – religious or otherwise.”

The Archbishop of Philadelphia preached at the last Mass of the U.S. bishops' two-week religious freedom campaign, which was spurred by the federal mandate requiring religious employers to provide contraception, sterilization, and abortion-causing drugs.

The Fortnight for Freedom began June 21 – the vigil of the Feast of Saints John Fisher and Thomas More – and ended on the U.S. celebration of Independence Day. Its closing Mass was celebrated by Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, D.C., with a homily delivered by Archbishop Chaput.

He began his homily by greeting the congregation on behalf of the Church in Philadelphia, “the cradle of our country’s liberty and the city of our nation’s founding.” It was there, he recalled, that “both the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution were written.”

In his sermon, the Philadelphia archbishop taught that the human right to religious freedom is needed “to create the context” for the “true freedom” offered by Jesus Christ, which involves liberation from sin and the gift of eternal life.

While religious liberty “is a foundational right” and “necessary for a good society,” it is not “an end in itself.” Rather, it must be used to find and live out the truth in order to attain to holiness, the highest form of freedom.

This higher form of freedom, found through God's grace, “isn’t something Caesar can give or take away,” Archbishop Chaput taught.

“In the end, we defend religious liberty in order to live the deeper freedom that is discipleship in Jesus Christ,” he reflected.

The right to religious freedom only finds its fulfillment when believers “use that freedom to seek God with our whole mind and soul and strength.”

Among the Scripture readings for the July 4 Mass, was the confrontation between Jesus and the Pharisees on the subject of taxation. As Christ observes Caesar's image on the Roman coin, he tells his listeners to “repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”

Archbishop Chaput, whose 2008 book “Render Unto Caesar” took inspiration from the same Bible passage, told the congregation at the national shrine that Jesus was not merely “being clever” or offering “political commentary.”

Christ's reasoning, he said, harkens back to the creation of mankind in the “image of God.” While the coin “bears the image of Caesar” and “belongs to Caesar,” the human person bears the image of the creator rather than the governing authority.

In this way, the archbishop said, Jesus is “making a claim on every human being.  He’s saying, 'render unto Caesar those things that bear Caesar’s image, but more importantly, render unto God that which bears God’s image' – in other words, you and me. All of us … We belong to God, and only to God.”

“Caesar is a creature of this world, and Christ’s message is uncompromising: We should give Caesar nothing of ourselves.”

While patriotism has its place, as an expression of justice and charity, believers cannot ultimately identify themselves with an earthly homeland. God, as Archbishop Chaput reminded the congregation, “made us for more than the world. Our real home isn’t here.”

As believers commit themselves to securing the Church's freedom in society, they must also ask themselves “some unsettling questions” about what they “really render to God” in everyday life.

“The political and legal effort to defend religious liberty – as vital as it is – belongs to a much greater struggle to master and convert our own hearts, and to live for God completely, without alibis or self-delusion,” Archbishop Chaput observed.  

“The only question that finally matters is this one: Will we live wholeheartedly for Jesus Christ? If so, then we can be a source of freedom for the world. If not, nothing else will do.”

“When we leave this Mass today, we need to render unto Caesar those things that bear his image. But we need to render ourselves unto God – generously, zealously, holding nothing back.”

In this way, he said, Catholics will fulfill their legitimate civic duties – while also, “much more importantly,” offering their lives “as disciples of Jesus Christ.”

Tags: Fortnight for Freedom

Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

An Indian contribution to the Vatican's Synod on the Family
An Indian contribution to the Vatican's Synod on the Family
Christ Cathedral CNA video Sept 2014
Alejandro Bermudez of CNA accepts ice bucket challenge
'The Real Albania,' remembering those who fled
Pope Francis in Albania, "one of the most important visits of the post-communist era in Albania"
Pope Francis greets paralyzed man who risked all to see him
Franciscans on the banks of the Tiber in Rome, working for the New Evangelization
Pilgrimage from Czech Republic to Assisi and Rome for intentions
Testimony of young Indian who met Pope in Korea
Preparations of the Closing Mass of 6th Asian Youth Day
Missionary of Charity, Korea
Testimony of Christian Love during Pope's Visit to Korea
Religious Sisters in South Korea react to Pope Francis kissing a baby
Warm atmosphere during Holy Mass at Daejeon World Cup Stadium
Images inside Pope Francis flight to South Korea
The tombs of the early Christians
Missionaries of Africa, called "the White Fathers"
Italian youth give testimony after mission to Peru
Interview with Iraqi Ambassador to the Holy See on the persecution of Christians
New book 'The Vatican unknown'
Oct
23

Liturgical Calendar

October 23, 2014

Thursday of the Twenty-Ninth Week in Ordinary Time

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Lk 12:49-53

Gospel
Date
10/23/14
10/22/14
10/21/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: Eph 3:14-21
Gospel:: Lk 12: 49-53

Saint of the Day

St. Romuald »

Saint
Date
10/23/14

Homily of the Day

Lk 12:49-53

Homily
Date
10/23/14
10/22/14
10/21/14