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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

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Jesus promised us that the truth would set us free:

Jesus promised us that the truth would set us free:

Kevyn Aucoin was born in Shreveport in 1962 and grew up in Lafayette, LA. He moved to New York and became a famous make up artist, photographer, and author.

In September 2001, he was diagnosed with a rare pituitary tumor. He had been suffering from this undiagnosed tumor for much of his life. He died in 2002 from pain medicine complications.

He left us with this quote: “Today I choose life. Every morning when I wake up I can choose joy, happiness, negativity, pain … To feel the freedom that comes from being able to continue to make mistakes and choices. Today I choose to feel life, not to deny my humanity but to embrace it.”

All of us have that same choice. We can choose to be happy and to bring happiness to others or we can choose the negativity and pain we experience from everyday life. The choice is ours.

When Moses was leading the Israelites into the Promise Land, he said something similar, “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, loving the LORD your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him; for that means life to you and length of days, so that you may live in the land that the LORD swore to give to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” (Deu. 30:19-20)

We should always choose life.

Stephen Covey (1932-2012), the author of “7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” once said, “Every human has four endowments – self awareness, conscience, independent will and creative imagination. These give us the ultimate human freedom . . . The power to choose, to respond, to change.”

Are we using our freedom to choose, respond and change.

I sometimes meet people who tell me they cannot change; they have been doing the same thing for many years. It’s true that the longer we have developed bad habits, the harder it is to change them. Still, we can all change. With the help of God we can do anything. We just have to ask God for the grace to be a better person.

The American historian, Daniel J. Boorstin (1914-2002) gave us this definition of freedom: “Freedom means the opportunity to be what we never thought we would be.”

St. Paul adds, “For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Gal. 5:13-14)

Love conquers all.

We often associate our freedom as a nation with military protection which is true. However, we sometimes overlook some greater freedoms.

George Washington Carver (1861-1943) reminds us: “Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom.”

In Louisiana we are ranked 45th among all the states yet we spend $11,774 per pupil (25th highest). Our high school graduation rate is 77.5% (8th lowest) yet the percentage of 3 and 4 year olds enrolled in preschool is 50.1% (11th highest).

We are not using our educational dollars well.

Educational outcomes in Louisiana are lacking. Only 29.6% of fourth graders in the state, and 17.9% of eighth graders, are proficient in math, the smallest share of any state in the country.

In addition, 11th and 12th graders in Louisiana are far less likely to score well on advanced placement exams than their counterparts in the vast majority of other states.

Lastly, Martin Luther King, Jr. reminds us: “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”

May we also be willing to share the gift of freedom with all peoples no matter how different they might be from us. Jesus did!