“Fourth of July!”, By Brian Flanagan, Fiat Ventures

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

I’m a big holiday guy. And I don’t mean these seemingly made-up-the-day-of holidays like “National Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Day” either. Maybe I get it from my mom, who always decorates her house for the main holiday in a given month; New Year, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, and so on throughout the year. Sometimes I’ll listen to music or watch some movies having to do with a particular holiday to enter into it – for example back at the end of May I watched a World War II documentary series throughout the week of Memorial Day. For Halloween, we might watch something like Monsters, Inc., accompanied by copious amounts of Reese’s peanut butter cups. And of course, the Christmas Season, which outweighs all of the other holidays rolled into one at my house (don’t worry, we go big for Advent first).

Some holidays are mostly fun, others have a deeper meaning. Some are a little of both. I’ve always taken the opportunity for the Fourth of July, our nation’s Independence Day, to pray for our country; and boy could we use some of that right now. Fortunately, the readings for this Sunday have a lot of insight to offer, even though the readings for the Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time have no planned correlation to the Fourth of July falling this Sunday (CONSPIRACY THEORY: OR DOES IT? CLICK HERE. JUST KIDDING.)

The first line that jumped out at me was the Responsorial Psalm refrain: “Our eyes are fixed on the Lord, pleading for his mercy.” It seems like that is the only possible response, if you open up any of the rival, supposedly-politically-neutral news websites, and read just about anything. Everything is more polarized than chic sunglasses, and everyone on both ‘sides’ and all throughout the middle seems to be deeply disheartened at the state of things. So let us plead with the Lord to have mercy on us, and to lead and guide us, especially our leaders.

Often, we can feel pretty powerless to change those disheartening things about the state of the world, but that’s where we’re wrong. We not only have the power to have an impact through the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, but we are sent out to do it! God expects us to have an impact on the world around us and equips us for it. But of course, it’s not easy. As with the LORD speaking to Ezekiel in the First Reading, “Hard of face and obstinate of heart are they to whom I am sending you.”

And sometimes the people who can push back the most when we try to reach out with God’s love and mercy are those in our own families. As Jesus says in the Gospel, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.”

But St. Paul in the Second Reading encourages us that God’s grace is sufficient for us, and when we are weak, then we are strong in Christ. So this Fourth of July, let’s take a moment to pray for our country and for the world, and remember our call to be God’s instrument, starting in our own homes, in bringing liberty and justice to all.

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