INDEPENDENCE DAY 2019
Thursday, July 4, 2019
Once again we are ready to celebrate the Fourth of July, one of the biggest holidays of the year. That’s partially due to it occurring in the middle of summer with the possibility of going to the beach, having a family reunion, grilling with a picnic, or just chilling out in some other way. We always think of fireworks, parades and weekend trips. For some it coincides with a family vacation, whether that be at a lake not too far away or perhaps Disney World in Orlando. Here in our part of the country we expect high temperatures, lots of sunshine and glorious humidity.
What do we celebrate? During the American Revolution, the legal separation of the thirteen colonies from Great Britain occurred on July 2, 1776, when the Second Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution of independence that had been proposed in June by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia. After voting for independence, Congress turned its attention to the Declaration of Independence, a statement explaining this decision, which had been prepared by a Committee of Five, with Thomas Jefferson as its principal author. Congress debated and revised the Declaration, finally approving it on July 4. A day earlier, John Adams had written to his wife Abigail:
The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of
America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations
as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of
deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized
with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and
illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward
Adam’s prediction was off by two days. From the outset, Americans celebrated independence on July 4, the date shown on the much-publicized Declaration of Independence, rather than on July 2, the date the resolution of independence was approved in a closed session of Congress.
How things have changed between (1776) and now (2019). We were thirteen colonies (states); now we are fifty. We were a nation of patriots and pilgrims; now we are considered the most powerful nation in the world known for freedom, equality, equal opportunity and a high standard of living. At the time of the Declaration we were 2.6 million people living in the newly independent nation; now we are 328,913,412 million people on this 4th of July 2019. We still have our struggles, we still have our disagreements, but we strive to live what we declared those many years ago. As a thankful nation, we pray: God Bless America!
We invite you to include in your holiday plans to join us for the Eucharist at 10:00 A.M. here at St. Peter’s. The church will be open only from 9:00-11:00 on July 4th so that the friars too might enjoy a day of rest and celebration.
THIRTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
In our reading from Luke’s Gospel account, Jesus has been preaching in Galilee. Today’s reading shows Jesus turning his attention to Jerusalem: “When the days for Jesus being taken up were fulfilled, he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem.” His decision will result in his death, yet he embraces this outcome.
Difficult challenges also face Jesus’ potential followers. Three would-be followers ask to join Jesus. Before setting out, each has a request. One would like to return home to bury a father and another to bid farewell to family. Nothing could be more human than these requests, but Jesus rejects them. This shocks us until we realize that Jesus is exaggerating to get his point across. Jesus never opposes upholding family ties. After all, “Honor your father and your mother” is one of the Ten Commandments. Jesus had also criticized the Pharisees for their refusal to support their elderly parents by “dedicating their money to God.”
Jesus highlights the foundational requirement for following him. Commitment to Jesus must be total. Even family bonds cannot take precedence over one’s bond with God. The same was true in Old Testament times. The people of Israel constantly turned away from following God wholeheartedly by worshipping other gods. In the First Reading, Elisha offered a similar excuse for delaying following Elijah.
Pope Francis expresses well the wholehearted demand of our relationship with Christ: “Being Christian is not just obeying orders but means being in Christ, thinking like him, acting like him, loving like him; it means letting him take possession of our life and change it, transform it” (General Audience, Wednesday, April 10, 2017).
Jesus invited people to follow him, but they did so with their free will. A response to an invitation to a life of discipleship is done only through a free act of faith. In the Second Reading, St. Paul tells the Galatians, “You were called to freedom.” In Dignitatus humanae, Pope Paul VI explains, “The act of faith of its very nature is a free act. The human person, redeemed by Christ the Savior and called through Jesus Christ to be an adopted child of God, can assent to God’s self-revelation only through being drawn to the Father and through submitting to God with a faith that is reasonable and free” (#10).
In the reading from Galatians, St. Paul calls on the community to use their freedom as it has been intended. He tells them, “Do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; rather, serve one another through love.” The Second Vatican Council document Gaudium et spes notes that grace aids us as we freely choose to do good. “Humanity’s dignity therefore requires them to act out of conscious and free choice, as moved and drawn in a personal way from within, and not by their own blind impulses or by external constraint. People gain such dignity when, freeing themselves of all slavery to the passions, they press forward towards their goal by freely choosing what is good, and, by their diligence and skill, effectively secure for themselves the means suited to this end. Since human freedom is weakened by sin, it is only by the help of God’s grace that people can properly orient themselves towards God” (#17).
For Your Reflection: Do you regard freedom as an opportunity to love and serve others? How might you work on a bad habit that is in opposition to loving your neighbor like yourself? What have you put ahead of following Christ?
SOLEMNITY OF SAINTS PETER AND PAUL
Saturday, June 29, 2019
One of the great feasts of the liturgical year is that of Saints Peter and Paul, which this year we celebrate on Saturday, June 29. The feast reminds us of these two great leaders in the early Church: Peter, the first Pope, and Paul, the great Apostle to the Gentiles. They had very different personalities and leadership skills, but both of them made monumental contributions to spreading the Good News after Jesus ascended back to the Father and entrusted the building of the Kingdom to his chosen apostles and disciples. This feast is also the patronal feast of our parish, but this year we will not be able to celebrate it with the usual celebrity because it occurs on Saturday. We will celebrate it at our noon Mass on Saturday, so we invite you, if at all possible, to join us for that Mass.
St. Mark ends the first half of his Gospel with a triumphant climax. He has recorded doubt, misunderstanding and the opposition of many to Jesus. Now Peter makes his great confession of faith: “You are the Messiah” (Mk 8:29). It was one of the many glorious moments in Peter’s life, beginning with the day he was called from his nets along the Sea of Galilee to become a fisher of men for Jesus.
The New Testament clearly shows Peter as the leader of the apostles, chosen by Jesus to have a special relationship with him. With James and John he was privileged to witness the Transfiguration, the raising of a dead child to life and the agony in Gethsemane. His mother-in-law was cured by Jesus. He was sent with John to prepare for the last Passover before Jesus’ death. His name is first on every list of apostles.
But the Gospels prove their own trustworthiness by the unflattering details they include about Peter. He clearly had no public relations person. It is a great comfort for ordinary mortals to know that Peter also has his human weakness, even in the presence of Jesus. He generously gave up all things, yet he can ask in childish self-regard, “What are we going to get for all this?” (Mt 19:27). He receives the full force of Christ’s anger when he objects to the idea of a suffering Messiah: “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do” (Mt 16:23).
Now for Paul—if the most well known preacher today suddenly began preaching that the United States should adopt Marxism and not rely on the Constitution, the angry reaction would help us understand Paul’s life when he started preaching that Christ alone can save us. He had been the most Pharisaic of Pharisees, the most legalistic of Mosaic lawyers. Now he suddenly appears to
other Jews as a heretical welcomer of Gentiles, a traitor and apostate.
Paul’s central conviction was simple and absolute: Only God can save humanity. No human effort—even the most scrupulous observance of law—can create a human good which we can bring to God as reparation for sin and payment for grace. To be saved from itself, from sin, from the devil and from death, humanity must open itself completely to the saving power of Jesus.
Paul never lost his love for his Jewish family, though he carried on a lifelong debate with them about the uselessness of the Law without Christ. He reminded the Gentiles that they were grafted on the parent stock of the Jews, who were still God’s chosen people, the children of the promise. And he poured himself out in preaching throughout Asia Minor, establishing communities of faith, revisiting them from time to time to encourage them, and finally suffering death for the sake of the Lord.
ST. PETER’S GALA
St. Peter’s Gala, the major fund raiser for our parish, will be held at the Union League Club on Jackson, on Thursday, July 18, from 5:30-8:30 P.M. It will be a great time to visit with other parishioners as well as with new friends while sipping a cool drink and enjoying magnificent food. We also have some magnificent items for you to purchase and to bid on during the silent and live auctions. The profits from this event go totally to reducing our budget deficit which is considerable each year. Last year we netted c. $150,000; this year our goal is to top that amount by a significant margin. Tickets @ $175.00 apiece are still on sale after the Masses on weekends and weekdays, or at other times when the front office is open. We hope to see you there.
PETER’S PENCE SECOND COLLECTION THIS WEEKEND
The Peter’s Pence Collection derives its name from an ancient custom. In the ninth century England, King Alfred the Great collected money, a “pence” from landowners, as financial support for the Pope. Today, the Peter’s Pence Collection supports the Pope’s philanthropy by giving the Holy Father the means to provide emergency assistance to those in need because of natural disaster, war, oppression and disease.
Pope Francis calls each of us to witness to charity and to show God’s mercy to one another. He encourages us to “open our eyes and see the misery of the world, the wounds of our brothers and sisters who are denied their dignity, and let us recognize that we are compelled to heed their cry for help!” The Peter’s Pence Collection unites us in solidarity to the Holy See and its works of charity to those in need. Your generosity allows the Pope to respond to our suffering brothers and sisters.
For example, in the dioceses of Embeder, Harar, and Mek in Ethiopia, people rely exclusively on subsistence farming and nomadic herding. The El Nino weather phenomenon worsened drought conditions in these regions, and the people fear a new famine that could be far worse than the 1984 famine that led to more than a million deaths in Ethiopia. But your support of the collection is helping the Holy Father to bring aid to the affected villages. Your donations have funded food and medicines that give the Ethiopian people a measure of relief and hope.
The Peter’s Pence Collection has raised nearly $190 million to support our suffering brothers and sisters around the globe. Thank you for standing in solidarity with the Holy See through your generosity Please continue to pray for all those who suffer and are facing adversity in any way.
A SUMMERTIME CHUCKLE
A pastor awoke one morning to find a dead donkey in his front yard. He had no idea how it got there, but he knew he had to get rid of it. He called the sanitation department, the health department, and several other agencies, but no one seemed able to help him.
In desperation, the good reverend called the mayor and asked what could be done.
The mayor must have been having a bad day. “Why bother me?” he asked. “You’re a preacher. It’s your job to bury the dead.”
The pastor lost his cool. “Yes,” he snapped, “but I thought I should at least notify the next of kin.”