“In the name of freedom, there has to be a correlation between rights and duties, by which every person is called to assume responsibility for his or her choices, made as a consequence of entering into relations with others.”
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
When we moved several years ago, my wife and I were on different sides of the fence when it came to our new neighborhood’s homeowners’ association. Tricia, being the rebel that she is, scoffed at having others tell her what she could and could not to do the exterior of her home. I, desperate never to have to mow a lawn, was all for the services that were promised for a modest monthly fee. However, as the years went on and the fee became more and more immodest, I began thinking Tricia may have a point. Add in one or two unexpected rejections of some projects we wanted to do and soon I was willing to join Tricia’s revolution against the tyranny of the HOA. When the latest notice came announcing another fee hike, I took to my computer to craft a strong yet professional email. As I sat down, I noticed my next door neighbor getting his mail and I went out to rally up another ally. He agreed the fee was getting ridiculous and asked if I went to the meeting the prior week where the decision was discussed. "No, I had a work thing," I muttered as I continued on my rant. "Oh, well don’t you remember they told us about this at last year’s meeting?" he asked innocently. I decided not to tell him that I had never been to a meeting before. "Well you should run for the Board," he offered as he began his way back inside, "rights always go better with responsibility."
As I thought about the possibility of receiving emails like the one I was thinking about writing, the prospect of paying an extra $10 a month seemed a lot more amenable than assuming any other responsibilities in my life. But my neighbor’s words stuck with me and I couldn’t help but think about rights and responsibilities in other aspects of my life. How often does my stated desire for something to be different match my demonstrated effort to make it different? How many times do I lament something in my leadership role or express a yearning in my faith life and expect it to change with no effort on my part? Is it that the Lord hasn’t answered my prayers or maybe is it that I just haven’t "joined the board" yet? As we rejoice in the rights of our baptism and in the association of saints and saints-in-training to which we belong, let’s remember the price of our admission wasn’t cheap and that we need to continue to invest in order to receive those eternal benefits. Prayers that you get on board with me this week.