We love because God first loved us, and we will have peace when his peace first fills our hearts and homes.
Long before September 11, 2001, Saint Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa) wrote, “Peace and war begin at home. If we truly want peace in the world, let us begin by loving one another in our own families. If we want to spread joy, we need for every family to have joy.” Today, peace and war are in our thoughts much more. Yet, even now as we follow the events in the Middle East and Africa, war can still seem remote from our everyday busy lives.
Independence Day is a day to rejoice that we live in a free country. We are free, not to live in any way we please, but free as Christians to live the Gospel we profess. This Gospel has as one of its golden rules exactly what Mother Teresa spoke about—to love others as we would want to be loved. This love begins with God’s love for us. From there, God’s love in us flows outward to the members of our families, to our friends, and to the whole world. In the words of Saint Paul, “The whole law is fulfilled in one statement, namely, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Galatians 5:14).
Celebrate Independence Day as a family. Some suggestions:
• Family Discussion—Take some time to talk about peace and war in the world today. Talk about love, peace, and war in your own family.
• Family Prayer—Attend Mass as a family. Pray for peace in your home and in the world. Pray for our nation and our leaders.
• Family Activities—Do something special for someone who suffered a loss. Visit a national memorial in your area. Watch a parade. Participate in a neighborhood or church picnic. Enjoy the fireworks display in your locality.
• Family Scripture Reading—Read one or more of the scriptures below. Copy one out and carry it with you this holiday weekend:
• “The commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery; you shall not kill; you shall not steal; you shall not covet,’ and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this saying, [namely] ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Romans 13:9)
• “The love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us.” (Romans 5:5)
• You are “called for freedom…. [therefore] serve one another through love.” (Galatians 5:13)
• Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.” (John 14:27)