Monday, September 6, 2010

14th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Sometimes it is easy to forget that our Lord Jesus is one of us. Yes, he is the son of God, the second person of the Most Holy Trinity, but he is also a very real human being. Week after week we listen to stories about how he healed the sick or walked over water… so many amazing and powerful stories that make us forget a simple fact; Jesus is as human as anyone of us, and that as a human being, when he lived among us, first and foremost he was a Jew.
Why should this be important to us? Well…Like every Jew of his time, Jesus loved Jerusalem; for Him Jerusalem was the center and the heart of the Jewish nation. It is difficult to understand what this feeling was for a Jew in the times of Jesus. In America (and perhaps the world) there is no place that will inspire the same kind of feelings. Jerusalem was the center of Jewish identity, not only the place in which a devout Jew could go to and worship God but the only place in which they could find forgiveness for their sins. For them the only connection between men and God was at the temple in Jerusalem. So you can imagine how fundamental to the Jewish identity the Holy City was.
But Jesus not only loved Jerusalem, he loved the Jewish nation. And this love is made very clear by the today’s words from the prophet Isaiah “I will spread prosperity over Jerusalem like a river, and the wealth of the nations like an overflowing torrent. As nurslings, you shall be carried in her arms, and fondled in her lap; as a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; in Jerusalem you shall find your comfort.”
In a day like today 4th of July, in which we celebrate the blessings of liberty and prosperity God has spread like a river over our own nation. It is very easy to identify with the same feelings of love that our Lord felt for His land and his countrymen.
This deep love is what drove Jesus to send his 72 disciples to preach the Gospel ahead of Him. But he did not do this blindly, he knew his countrymen very well, he knew some of them were going to reject His message, so he gave very specific instructions to his disciples. Preach the truth of the Gospel where ever you go, humbly embrace those who accept it, avoid those who ignore or contradict you. And know that by preaching the Gospel you are already living in the Kingdom of God.
I think that in a day like today we should take these simple instructions into our own lives. Because my brothers and sisters as disciples of Jesus he is sending us every day to live as “Lambs among wolves”. We Christians, especially Catholics, because of the way we live our lives, more and more are been ridiculed by those who abuse the liberties God has poured over our country. More and more we see efforts to push out of the public discourse, the message of the Gospel. Our views about family, life, God and country do not conform to the distorted ideas of liberty and happiness of small but vocal minority, so they actively seek to silence our voices. Jesus knew very well this is what his disciples should expect whenever they witness to the truth of the gospel.
Living like a lamb among wolves is not easy. It is very easy to get discouraged, or react by isolating ourselves, or by keeping our quiet when the gospel or the Church is attacked, or by not bringing attention to the fact that we are Catholic. But this is not how Jesus lived His life. He knew that the same people he was trying to save, the people he so deeply loved, at the end were going to crucify him. This did not stop him and should not stop us.
The 4th of July is a day to show how much we love our country. There is no better way to show this love by bringing the kingdom of God to our countrymen. This love we all feel for America should not end with the fireworks of tonight. If we truly love our country and we truly love our country man, we should commit every day to bring the truth of the Gospel to them. And not be afraid of the knowledge that many will not listen to us, and some even might persecute us. And if at any moment we get discouraged, remember the words of the savior: There is no greater love that the one who gives his life for the others. May in this 4th of July we find renewed strength and courage, from the Holy Spirit to show our love for our country and our countrymen in the way Jesus showed His own love for His, by giving our lives for the truth of the Gospel