From the Pastor’s Desk | July 3, 2022 | Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,
through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”
Brothers and Sisters,
“O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
As a native Baltimorean, I always thought over-emphasizing the O (a nod to the Baltimore Orioles) was a unifying moment. It wasn’t until college did I discover that not everyone enthusiastically sings the “O” in the national anthem. For me, our Nation’s anthem — with or without the enthusiastically sung O — served to honor the best of what our country stands for. But we live in a different time than my childhood. The anthem protests and the Nation’s criticism have revealed a growing chasm of division. Regularly we are confronted with a new mode of analyzing our history and questioning our historical figures. While some believe there is nothing good to be found in our Nation’s past, may we, the faithful, eagerly petition the Holy Spirit to endow us with eyes of understanding when reflecting on the Lord’s Divine Authorship of Salvation History.
Last week, on retreat, I heard Fr. Brian Barr vibrantly speak of passion. Passion should not be reduced to excitement (such that I enjoy when singing the O a bit louder when amid our rivals). True passion motivated Jesus to bear the cross so we might have life. True passion leads us to commit our lives to a more significant cause and see a way forward through difficult challenges to achieve our goals. Our passion may lead us to join others to march for rights or may be lived out more subtly, like faithfully serving and caring for others, despite the daily grind. Passion will help us transform the world into the Kingdom God intends.
Transforming our culture is difficult. And we are often left with a feeling of helplessness. Church teaching reminds us that we should engage the culture and enter into dialogue. We are called to understand and appreciate another’s perspective, even if we disagree. As we celebrate the 4th of July, let us thank God for the many blessings of the United States of America. Let us think of those who sacrificed so we could have freedom, both in giving their lives and those who lived their daily lives for the sake of their communities. These are the ones who lived out the freedom earned for them. These are the brave that we should be proud of.
Let us also think of our highest ideals and be open to the many ways we fail to live out these virtues. This honest account does not make us failures, however. A reflection on how we could have done better makes us a Nation eager to keep growing, not satisfied with our achievements nor complacent with the injustices that still exist. Let us be willing to listen in charity, mending the discord that threatens to weaken our democracy.
Land of the free and home of the brave.
May the Lord continue to raise true leaders who help our Nation realize the ideals we profess.
In the Lord,
Rev. Michael S. Triplett