I recently received a message from Very Rev. Fr. Athanasios Haros, Dean of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Tarpon Springs. His message rang true with my commitments and feeling on Freedom, and the expressions put forth regarding Faith and Freedom including that our younger generation does not forget the large sacrifices paid by our forefathers, here in America, and overseas in Europe and Asia Minor, as expressed in my book, “Platanides: Through the Eye of the Storm”. As such, I decided that I wanted to share Father Athanasios’ message with my family, friends, and associates; especially now while we are enjoying this 4th of July holiday.
Father Athanasios titles his message as “Freedom is a Gift from God”. In his message he states:
“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.” These famous words from the Declaration of Independence set in motion a national consciousness committed to defend and promulgate the ideal of freedom here and abroad that has endured for over two hundred years. This freedom though comes with responsibility. And as with any gift we receive, we are obliged to respond with gratitude to the one who gives.
Whether some choose to acknowledge it or not, it is God that ultimately is the grantor of the freedom that we hold so dear in our nation and His gift of freedom comes with the expectation that it is used for the glory of God and not our own glory. As Saint Paul writes, “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful.” (1 Corinthians 6.12) It appears that Saint Paul was keenly aware that there would be times when we might freely choose something that would cause us harm. It goes without saying that I have the freedom to climb to the highest building and throw myself off the roof, but who would dare suggest this action would be helpful?
What should our response be to God for this freedom? All He asks is that we love each other. “Love is the fulfillment of the Law.” (Romans 13.10) How can we continue to allow our fellow human beings to suffer with hunger and homelessness if we love them? How can we continue to allow our fellow human beings to suffer the wrath of alcohol and drug addiction if we love them? How can we continue to ignore the needs of others when we have been so richly blessed by God? How can we continue to watch innocent babies slaughtered at the hands of doctors sworn by an oath to “do no harm?” We cannot!
This week I invite you to honor freedom! There are steps we can take that will show our love for our fellow human beings. First, we must pray for each other that our hearts be opened to God’s call for a relationship with Him. Second, we must live every moment as if we love Him. “If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar.” (1 John 4.20) Finally, we must take the time in our personal lives to help others, either by volunteering at local charities or by supporting those efforts to the best of our ability.
May God continue to bless America!”
I would not be surprised that each of us who read this message receive it in different ways as our responses are dependent on our own individual experiences. Notwithstanding, the message certainly is meaningful and provides each of us with something to contemplate as we set forth celebrating this 247th anniversary of the birth of these United States of America and its declaration to stand for and follow the freedoms that all of us enjoy.
Happy Fourth of July