February 24, 2012

Faith and Family / Sean Gallagher

Form children in God’s glorious freedom

Sean GallagherSome 2,000 years ago, St. Paul wrote in one of his most inspiring lines that “the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us,” and that this glory was, in part, the “glorious freedom of the children of God” (Rom 8:18, 21).

As our sons continue to grow—God’s children that have been entrusted to us—my wife, Cindy, and I strive with the help of his grace to form them in that glorious freedom. It is a freedom from God whose goal is not so much to let them do whatever they want to do, although God in his respect for our freedom allows us to take such a sad and dangerous course.

Instead, the freedom which God has blessed us with is intended by him to help us become who he created us to be—his children, fully loving him and each other in our every thought, word and deed in the unique vocation to which he has called each of us.

All of this may sound like high and mighty ideals. And they are. But they are worked out in the concrete and often messy circumstances of everyday life. We form our children in their glorious freedom by encouraging them to be good and kind and respectful toward us, their brothers, cousins, friends and even children or adults they might meet when we are together in a park or at a library.

They need to show that goodness, kindness and respect because each one of those other people are all children of God endowed with that glorious freedom. When they fail in that goal and act in bad, mean or disrespectful ways, Cindy or I will correct them and give them a punishment that is appropriate for their age.

We also try to give them a good example of good, kind and respectful behavior, although I will be the first to say that I sometimes fail in that regard. Nevertheless, I try to tell them when I have given them a bad example, and let them know that I want them and myself to be better than that.

Unfortunately, our sons are being given a bad example right now that is more difficult to change than my own daily choices. That is the steps that our federal government leaders have taken recently to limit the freedom of religion of Catholics and other people of faith. Religious organizations are being forced to offer health insurance to their employees that include coverage for contraceptives, including those that cause abortions, and sterilizations, even if they believe these medicines and procedures are immoral.

On Feb. 10, President Barack Obama said that insurance companies, not faith-based organizations, would pay for such coverage. But many religious organizations, like the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, are self-insured. The payments made by insurance companies for them come solely from them.

In any case, this policy still intrudes on a faith community’s and an individual person’s ability to define for themselves how they are to live out that faith, an ability recently upheld by a 9-0 Supreme Court decision in its Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC decision.

In the midst of all this, Cindy and I are trying to give our sons a good example by asking our legislators to strengthen our government’s respect for the glorious freedom of all God’s children in this country. Whether or not our requests—and hopefully those of thousands of other good, like-minded people across the country—will prove effective or fall on deaf ears isn’t really the point.

For although I pray that the sufferings of this present time will truly be outshone by the revealing of the glorious freedom of the children of God in our midst, that may not happen here and now. But if Cindy and I will respect this freedom, then, by God’s grace, our boys will have had that freedom and a loving respect for it in others planted firmly in their own minds and hearts. †

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