Archive for July, 2016

What Do We Do After We Celebrate the Fourth of July?

Sunday, July 3rd, 2016

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Is 66:10-14c; Gal 6: 14-18; Luke 10: 1-12, 17-20

By Deacon Larry Brockman

It’s time for us all to celebrate our Nation’s Birthday- it’s the July 4th Weekend.  And boy, do we ever know how to do it in style- with fireworks, barbeques, and pool parties galore.  And we should celebrate, because we have much to be proud of as Americans.  Our nation, founded on the Judeo Christian values of our Forefathers, has been a beacon for freedom and democracy, not only here, but in so many places over the globe.

It would be fair to say that the American Republic has led several spiritual renewals that have been responsible for paving the way for the freedoms here that have migrated across the globe.

First, our revolution resulted in Religious Freedom for the many diverse religious groups that migrated here from Europe in the 200 years prior to our Revolution.  Our forefathers built religious freedom into our Constitution to assure that all religious groups were free to practice here.  They did that because they recognized that freedom of Religion was the most basic freedom and that the role of Government was to protect our right to exercise our faith.  It was not the role of Government to impose Religion or prohibit its practice.

Then, America successively led the way to the abolishment of slavery; the rights of workers and the rights of women in successive spiritual renewals that recognized that all humans are created equal.

In the twentieth century, our nation unselfishly provided the critical help necessary to suppress three threats to freedom and belief in God in the First World War, the Second World War, and the Cold War with Atheistic Communism.  We call those who were involved in the latter two wars “the Greatest Generation” because of the resolve and commitment that the entire nation unselfishly made.  Yes, we have much reason to celebrate the 4th of July.

But notice a couple of things about all of these accomplishments that we celebrate.  First, we are celebrating the accomplishments of the past.  Second, our accomplishments were in cycles that occurred over a span of 200 years.  Third, new generations of Americans rose to the challenges in each cycle of evil that confronted them.  Fourth, prior to each cycle, prophetic voices were heard that called for action against each evil whether it was suppression of religious freedom, the evil of slavery, labor violations, suppression of women’s rights, or foreign dictators and tyrants.  And lastly, America was blessed with God-fearing leaders in each case that led the charge against evil.  Now I mention all of this because we owe our freedoms to the wonderful actions of our forefathers in many generations; but our future depends on us; it depends on you and how you move forward.

You see, the devil is never finished spreading evil.  We may be able to suppress it for a while; but the devil is quite resilient in confronting us with an even more sinister evil.  And so it is with our current society.  We are confronted with multiple evils now, just as sinister and perhaps more deadly than those we have faced in the past.  Much of our affluent society has turned its back on our Judeo Christian values, such as the ten-commandments; the beatitudes; respect for life; and equality of opportunity for all.  And there are radical religious movements that insist that the entire world must be converted to their faith, and the universal establishment of a 7th century code of ethics; or die- there are no alternatives that satisfy them.  Lastly, the advent of the global economy has pushed greed and the methods to achieve it beyond any one nation’s ability to control the process.  This is a multiple pronged attack by the forces of evil that you and I and our current generation must deal with.

Our Gospel story today shows how Jesus trained his Disciples ahead of his Passion for the work they would have to do as the Church after his death- to proclaim the Kingdom of God.  The 72 disciples represent the Church- a group that included the Apostles and disciples- the Bishops and Priests- who were sent out after an abundant harvest.  Yes, the harvest is abundant because the harvest Jesus is referring to was the abundant legacy he was giving us in the Gospel- the abiding word of God and especially Jesus’ own example.

In that first experiment that Jesus conducted with his mini-church, the 72 were sent out two by two so that there were multiple voices of the message for clarity, and so that they served as witnesses for each other in the event of controversy.  They were sent out penniless so that they didn’t have a vested interest.  Jesus trained these men and with that training fresh in their minds, they were successful; so successful that Jesus says that he “Saw Satan fall like lightning from the sky”.  This means that Jesus saw that the mini-Church had dealt a blow to Satan and his evil.

So, let us certainly celebrate today and tomorrow the successes of our forefathers and the freedom they have won for all of us.

But beginning next week, we all have work to do.  Paul tells us that he can only boast of the cross that he carries.  This should be our criteria as well.  We should only boast of the cross that we have to carry.  As a people, our cross to bear is the suppression of the evil in our times.  And so, we need to serve as the prophets, the evangelizers, and the faithful who will respond to the current call to fight evil in our times, not just some of us, but all of us.

It is once again time for spiritual renewal in this country so that we can maintain the freedom our forefathers brought us; and establish a newfound advance in the freedom of mankind that new generations to come will celebrate on the Fourth of July.