This weekend the holiday of Cinco De Mayo will be celebrated here in Itasca, and in many communities in the American Southwest. No, it is not Mexico’s Independence Day. It is the anniversary of the Battle of Puebla, which occurred over fifty years after Mexico declared independence from Spain. In the aftermath of the Mexican-American war and other internal events that followed, Mexico had been saddled with large debts. In 1861 the president of Mexico suspended all federal debt payments for two years. In response, England, Spain, and France sent naval forces to invade and collect what was owed. After negotiation England and Spain withdrew, but France launched an invasion.
Near the village of Puebla, one of the most powerful military forces in the world was defeated by a severely outnumbered and ill-equipped Mexican force. Ultimately the French went on to occupy Mexico until 1867, but the symbolic significance of the Battle of Puebla remains, much like that of the Alamo. Since that time, no European army has invaded the American continents, and the heroic stand at Puebla has become a symbol of resistance. This was not the battle for freedom, it was a battle to keep the freedom that had already been won.
A similar battle is played out in each of our daily lives. Once a person has declared freedom from sin and the evil ideals that lead a life to ruin (Romans 6:6-7), that freedom must be defended by the choices we make every day. “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” (Romans 6:1-2)