Our Pastor’s Corner, July 6, 2014, Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Thus says the LORD: Rejoice heartily, O daughter Zion, shout for joy, O daughter Jerusalem! See, your king shall come to you; a just savior is he, meek, and riding on an ass, on a colt, the foal of an ass. He shall banish the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem; the warrior’s bow shall be banished, and he shall proclaim peace to the nations. His dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth. (Zechariah 9:9-10)

flag_grayskyHappy Fourth of July weekend! The picnics, fireworks and family gatherings on Independence Day remind us of the value of freedom and honor those who have made it possible. Two hundred thirty-eight years ago, the dawning of a dream for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness broke free on the shores of these United States. And we are proud of such heritage even as we are humbled by the sacrifices made. The liberty we enjoy is not simply a freedom from oppression and tyranny, but a freedom for living a virtuous Christian way of life. We should never take these freedoms for granted.

Our first reading gives us a glimpse of how Christ comes as a servant king who will establish a culture of freedom. The freedom which the humble Christ offers is not simply a political freedom, but a promise of spiritual liberation. The power of sin and death dissipates in the lives of those who follow his rule. And yet, precisely because of its spiritual roots, the freedom Christ brings has social and political consequences. The Church has long been an advocate for religious freedom in various areas of the public square, often as a champion for those whose voices are threatened to be muted. In fact, the origin of our nation connects with many core values of our faith. For example, the Preface for the Eucharist Prayer on Independence Day highlights the connection between Christ’s work and the formation of our country. “It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation, always and everywhere to give you thanks, Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God, through Christ our Lord. He spoke to us a message of peace and taught us to live as brothers and sisters. His message took form in the vision of our founding fathers as they fashioned a nation where we might live as one. His message lives on in our midst as our task for today and a promise for tomorrow. We thank you, Father, for your blessings in the past, and for all that, with your help, we must achieve.” Though Christ did not come to establish a political kingdom, the freedom which flows from the Gospel calls us to work for a more just, merciful and compassionate culture. It is interesting to note that Zechariah’s prophecy, “His Dominion shall be from sea to sea and from the Rivers to the ends of the earth” finds echoes in such lyrics of America the Beautiful, “And crowned thy good with brotherhood/from sea to shining sea” and God Bless America, “From the mountains/to the prairie/to the ocean white with foam.” Though we need to be cautious in conflating them, faith and patriotism are not divorced from each other. We are Catholics who are proud to live in a country where human and religious freedoms can be pursued.

And yet, the reason we are able to celebrate freely is because of the sacrifice of those who have answered the call to serve our nation. As a way of treasuring our independence, we remember those dear to us here in our own parish who have taken up the responsibility of shouldering freedom’s standard a world away. Each week, we publish the names of those men and women connected with St. Dominic who have answered the call of duty. Join me this week in praying for these brave men and women.

 

credit: hardingstreetcoc.net

credit: hardingstreetcoc.net

Prayer for Our Troops

All-powerful and ever-living God, when Abraham left his native land and departed from his people you kept him safe through all his journeys. Protect our soldiers. Be their constant companion and their strength in battle, their refuge in every adversity. Guide them, O Lord, that they may return home in safety. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

~Fr. Michael Hurley, O.P.


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