FROM THE PASTOR’S DESK
HAPPY 4TH OF JULY
As we celebrate our nation’s birthday this weekend, we have a great opportunity to see this in light of our faith. With everything our nation has been experiencing this spring and early summer, it is more important than ever to recall our nation is one that stands for freedom and individual rights, even to the extent of going to war at times. While these qualities are very good, we must always be careful not to make them gods. They must serve us, and allow every man, woman and child the freedom to serve God. When we make freedom, individual rights, democracy or any other ideal an end in itself, we limit our true freedom. Our lives and our nation can begin to take on a new identity, one that is often at odds with our Judea-Christian foundation. This begs the question: am I a Catholic American, or an American who is Catholic?
How that question is phrased makes all the difference in the world. St. Peter tells us we are pilgrims and strangers in this world (1 Peter 2:9–12). And St. Paul tells us in his letter to the Philippians: We are here, God willing, long enough to need a house to live in, and a job to feed us. But, we are not permanent residents. We are merely strangers living in the midst of an alien culture. We are pilgrims passing through earth on our way to Heaven. (Phil. 3:20) As Christians, we are pilgrims in the world. We can make any land our home, but we can never be truly at home in this life.
We need to take an honest look at our lives, and answer the question posed above. Are our actions and choices consistent with our answer? Are there things I would exchange for my relationship with God: a home, a job, family, safety, friendships or other relationships? What are my values? What are my principles? Is there anything I cannot compromise? What am I here for? Will my life have meaning if I get good grades, if I am good at baseball or basketball or any sport, if I have a girlfriend or boyfriend? Will getting into the perfect college make my life purposeful, having a nice home, having a spouse, perfect children or that perfect job? These are all good things, and it is good to strive for them, but at what cost? The American dream is something that lasts for a lifetime, but we are created for eternity. Is my life at the service of a dream that will die with me, or is the dream interwoven into a life of service, one that will bring me to eternity with the One who created me?
We are truly blessed to call this great country home for now, but we know that in all its glory, it is just a shadow of the glory that awaits us. It is good to celebrate our nation’s birthday, and it is good to be a proud American within reason; it is far more important to be a good Catholic, a good Christian who is living this life as if our eternity depends upon it. So we will close as we started: as we celebrate our nation’s birthday, am I celebrating as a Catholic American or an American who happens to be Catholic?
God bless and be safe.