Homily for the 4th of July Homily
Am 8:4-6, 9-12 / PS 119:2,10,20,30,40 / Mt 9:9-13
There is no doubt that our nation has been extremely blessed by God. We have perhaps the greatest reserve of natural resources in the world, a strong education structure and even amidst many struggles we continue to be a world leader in freedom and peace. Today as we celebrate the birthday of our beloved country we are reminded that all the great blessings we have been given as a nation are indeed a blessing from God and we are challenged both as a nation and as citizens of our country to encourage others to make a positive return on those gifts back to God.
Today’s first reading gives us a stern warning that even amidst the great things we have been given we cannot live on those things alone. If we become focused solely on the material things of this world we will shut God out from our lives. Our founding father’s knew this and did not found a nation on the greatness of their political ideas or the natural resources of this land, but rather they founded this nation “under God.”
Sadly today many people have lost sight of the truth that our nation is founded under God. Rather than seeing God for who He truly is they are searching for gods in worldly places. Sadly today some in our country have lost sight of God and have lost their way. Some are attempting to remove our founding principle under God and in so doing are radically changing who we are as a nation and taking away our greatest gift, making our country weaker.
While it can be easy to look at our country in these times and become depressed our Gospel today challenges us to a radically different way of looking at our world. Rather than watching the news depressed we are challenge to see our time as a time of opportunity. In today’s Gospel we are told about the calling of St. Matthew who was a tax collector. It was well known at the time of Jesus that tax collectors cheated people, they took what belonged to the government and then some for themselves. Notice Jesus does not get depressed when he encounters Matthew, rather he invites Matthew to come follow Him.
I think this is our challenge today. We, as Catholic Americans, are called to first recognize that we do not live on material things alone, and are called to see God’s blessing in the many gifts we have been given. Having recognized the many blessing we have received we are called to invite those in our country, who sadly have become only preoccupied with material things to come with us and follow after Jesus.
We are invited to witness with those who have fallen away from the Christian principles our nation was founded on and lead them to Christ, through our own witness of our actions. Will this be easy? Certainly not, but today I can’t help but think of our founding fathers and all the hard work they put in to found our nation.
Did you know 56 men signed the declaration of independence? Of those 56, 5 were captured as traitors by the British and tortured to death. Another 9 died as a result of battles of the Revolutionary War, and 1, a merchant, had his ships captured and was forced to sell all his possessions to pay off those expenses and ended up living the rest of his life on the streets in rags. We, like the founding father’s may have to undergo some hardships if we want to help lead those in our nation who have fallen from our guiding principle as one nation under God, but we can be assure that in our suffering we are not only leading others back to God, we are helping to return our country to its founding principle, the principle that makes it such a great nation, a nation under God.