A Call for Gospel Values as we Celebrate Independence

July 1, 2018

For some it has been a turbulent time in America, for others it has been a time to tune things out.  As we gather to celebrate the 4th this Wednesday, we come to listen to the value of following Christ.  In the second reading Paul is very clear as to what Jesus did for us and the entire world.  Paul writes “for you know the gracious act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich for our sake He became poor, so that by His poverty you might become rich.”  The richness and beauty of our country becomes a responsibility. To follow in the footsteps of Jesus we are called to contemplate the invitation to walk from where we are to the place of the marginalized, the poor, and those who carry heavy burdens.  However we define ourselves, whatever we see as our riches, we are invited to share them.  We are called to walk with others and be there for others.  As we were leaving our mission trip in the Philippines, we visited a war memorial. It was the statue of General Douglas McArthur in Tacloban, the town from which we flew home. The statue was a tribute to the fact that General McArthur remained true to the promise that he would return.  The Gospel this weekend tells us to have faith against all odds.

As we prepare to celebrate the greatness of our nation, and it is a great nation, we are also called to live truthfully the Gospel mission that our freedom protects.  The starting point is to remember how rich and blessed we are.  We are to follow closely the journey of Jesus, who became poor so we could become rich.  We are called to embrace a sense of poverty in our lives, however we define that.  There are health issues that impoverish people, there are employment issues that impoverish people, and there is hate and violence that impoverish people.  Wherever the Gospel is leading us to we are called to go, just as soldiers have done in every war. From the war for independence to the Civil War; from the war on drugs to the war against injustice and crime.

What makes our country so fantastic is that we have the freedom to celebrate our Gospel values.  The movement of God is away from a place of richness to a place of poverty.  We are called to be true to our word. We are called to trust and have faith in God.  As we celebrate, may we embrace the Gospel values of standing with the impoverished of all kinds so that we may be rich in the eyes of the Lord.

Happy Fourth of July and may God bless America,

Fr. John J. Ouper