On this holiday weekend with the focus on freedom, I want to focus on the free gifts we have been given by God. First of all, God has given us life which we do not have to pay for or earn. It is abundant as Christ declares. As a part of our human nature, we can see, hear, touch, move around. We have free will and an intellect that can discern good from evil. Being made in the image of God, we are also relational in nature. Indeed we could not survive without the loving relationships with others, especially our parents: feeding us, sheltering us, teaching us, nurturing us along the way. We have been given the gift of love by God and it expresses itself in all things that we do. Love is the basic good that describes our relationships and true love is based on respect, understanding, self-giving and care for the other. It is not something invented by us but a wonderful gift given by God. God has given us a sense of beauty and has placed in our midst beautiful things such as the beauty of a sunset, human beauty and created beauty in the arts. Our faith also teaches us that through our nature, we seek the good naturally. As St. Augustine has stated, “My heart is restless until it rests in You.” God has implanted in our nature a desire for God. As we celebrate the 4th of July, let us also thank our founding fathers for the gift of religious freedom that empowers us to experience all that God has given us. Let us make a simple prayer of thanksgiving for our faith, for the beauty of our nature, and for the ability to gather freely as a faith community at St. Jane Frances. Indeed, we have much to be thankful for!