13th Thursday in Ordinary Time
Independence Day in the United States
Numbers 6:22-27; Luke 12:15-21
Today we recall how our founding fathers gathered in Philadelphia to issue an audacious declaration that raised the human race to a new understanding of its possibilities and initiated a great experiment dedicated to the possibilities of a society governed by ordinary citizens committed to the ideals of liberty, justice, and the pursuit of happiness. The challenges facing us today demand a renewal of that courageous spirit that has accomplished so much good throughout our nation’s history. The complexity, gravity, and urgency of these challenges demand that we pool our resources and live in solidarity with one another. We must learn to respect each other and treasure our unique differences, and we must safeguard our freedom of conscience. In a word, if we want security, we must extend security to others. If we want life, we must defend the life of all, born and unborn. If we want opportunities, we must provide opportunities for others to pursue happiness in peace.
After visiting America in 1831, the French writer Alexis de Tocqueville said, “I sought for the greatness of the United States in her commodious harbors, her ample rivers, her fertile fields, and boundless forests. It was not there. I sought for it in her rich mines, her vast world commerce, her public school system, and in her institutions of higher learning. It was not there. I looked for it in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution. It was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great!”
As children of God, we have dual citizenship. We are citizens of the United States of America, and citizens of the City of God. We must keep alive the longing for our true homeland. We must never lose sight of our final goal. We must make it the main object of life to press on to heavenly homeland and to help others to do the same. Our founders knew that Christ’s kingdom was spiritual and sought to serve the heavenly kingdom while at the same time establishing a new nation. Gospel principles oblige us to deal justly with all we encounter. When we enjoy an abundance, we are reminded to thank God and share our blessings with those in need. The law of Christ frees us from selfishness in order that we may experience the joy that can only be found in deep, meaningful relationships, relationships that are not afraid to share one another’s burdens.
I will close with a simple prayer written by George Washington: “Almighty God, who has given us this good land for our heritage: We humbly beseech you that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of your favor and glad to do your will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom your Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to your law, we may show forth your praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness and in the day of trouble, do not allow our trust in you to fall; all this we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord.” AMEN!
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