E Pluribus Unum. . . Out of Many, One

July 4, 2021

This is the motto of the United States of America.  On this Independence Day, we are invited to reflect on the many voices that are called to blend together as one.  United at the Pledge of Allegiance, we say we are one nation under God.  How does our voice as Catholics add to this unity?  We are blessed to have the freedom to gather, pray and lift up those things we find sacred to us.  We stand with other religions that have the same protection and freedom, even when the ideologies may be diametrically opposed to our own.  Strength comes from listening, even when there will not be agreement.  With listening, a form of understanding can evolve. We have been a nation that has been at war with others and with ourselves.  Thirteen colonies were different, yet relied on a purpose that could be born from a Declaration and a Bill of Rights.  Recently I heard a quote in a commercial and for me, it was profound. “While all are created equal, it takes all to create equality.”   The Church has spoken definitively about the option for the poor and vulnerable.  The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has written a Pastoral Letter on Catholic Social Teaching and the U.S. Economy entitled, “Economic Justice for All.”  In this letter, they remind us that the voice we are to become is one that embraces the pains and wounds of our community.

In the document Economic Justice for All, in paragraph no.88, it says, “The ‘option for the poor’ therefore, is not an adversarial slogan that pits one group or class against another. Rather it states that the deprivation and powerlessness of the poor wounds the whole community.  The extent of their suffering is a measure of how far we are from being a true community of persons.  These wounds will be healed only by greater solidarity with the poor and among the poor themselves.”

The invitation for this 4th of July is like no other.  The pain and wounds of our nation are ever before our eyes.  The call to be heard comes from deep pain and the Gospel, that we have the freedom to proclaim, leads us to hear the cry of the poor.  Fireworks will dot the sky this year, backyards will find grills heated, families and friends will gather.   All of this brings hope.  We are a great nation under God.  The questions I must ask myself and I invite you to do the same are: How have I worked to create equality?  How have I become one in solidarity with the poor?

We are blessed to live in this nation.   How do we bless this nation by living our faith?

May God bless America,

Father John Ouper