A Reflection for the 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time
and Independence Day 2011
By Rev. Bob Johnnene OFD, Mission Saints Sergius & Bacchus & Franciscans of Divine Mercy
Based on Readings from Zechariah 9:9-10, Psalm 145, Romans 8:9-13, Matthew 11:25-30
This weekend we in the United States will be celebrating the 235th anniversary as an Independent nation founded on the principals of equality and justice for all.
It saddens me that so many politicians and citizens of this great nation have lost sight of that founding principal and even more saddening is that they dare to call themselves Christians meaning that they are supposed to follow Christ’s teachings.
On December 23, 1776 Thomas Paine wrote in a publication called The Crisis the following words “These are the times that try men's souls. The complacent citizen and the self-righteous will, in this time of crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of every man and woman.” I believe that these words could very well refer to what is happening in this country now.
Certain political hopefuls for the role of President of this country are advocating policies that would cause millions of our poor and low income senior citizens to be forced to live lives that are in some cases worse than those found in third world countries.
In one of the richest countries in the world the very politicians who are advocating cuts in Medicare, Food Stamps and other programs that help people have the basics of life, earn monthly salaries in excess of the yearly income of the people who their proposed cuts would hurt most.
The Mass readings for this Sunday have an affirmation that Christ was sent by Almighty God, that Christ came to instruct ALL humanity to have compassion for the poor, sick aged and marginalized.
The first reading prophesizes that the messiah would; “He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.” (Zechariah 9:9-10)
The second reading tells us the following; “Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.” (Romans 8:9-13)
The Gospel reading is an affirmation that Christ was sent from God; “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:25-30)
Since Jesus the Christ is from and of God we, therefore, who claim to follow the teachings Christ gave us and call ourselves Christians need to consider the needs of those who have not been blessed with as much as we may have been and who certainly do not have the resources that so many have today.
Most of our senior citizens never imagined earning the salaries that so many today expect. They would have considered someone who earned $75,000 a year to be extremely rich. The salaries some receive for playing a sport or acting in films and TV where only received by The super-rich industrialists and financiers such as John D. Rockefeller, Andrew W. Mellon, Andrew Carnegie, J P Morgan, The Vanderbilt and Astor Families.
Tom Paine had a grand vision for society: he was staunchly anti-slavery, and he was one of the first to advocate a world peace organization and social security for the poor and elderly.
I believe that we, in this nation, are facing another time of crisis. So many individuals and corporations seek only to accrue dividends and huge profits for their investors by cutting jobs and raising the prices of basic goods or shipping jobs overseas for the cheap labor while at the same time as they receive tax cuts from our Government allowing them to have huge profits. These same people and the politicians who support them claim they are Christians. Their actions are in complete opposition to the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Those individuals are denying millions of the basic values our founding fathers had when they established our constitution. When people are being denied equal rights because of their social condition, age or sexual orientation there is no justice.
The God who created all things and gave His only beloved son to us to teach us how to Love and respect each other would not approve of how this nation is denying citizens equal rights or how they deprive it’s most vulnerable and poorest and aged citizens of affordable health care and decent housing but spend billions to wage war against other countries that expend the lives of our youth and future.
Most of the very same politicians who are advocating cuts in Medicare and who have reduced Food Stamps for those receiving them claiming the COST OF LIVING had gone down while every news media organization including those considered part of the conservative are telling us how the cost of food has gone up considerably.
Every elected official receives, in addition to their salaries which as I stated before are more per month than what millions receive yearly to live on, also get FREE health and Dental insurance, subsidized meals in the Congressional dining room, grooming in the congressional barber and beauty shops, FREE parking and reimbursement for Gas and travel, some of which many would consider a luxury vacation.
These are all things those living on only their Social Security which is often less than $1000 ( One Thousand Dollars) a month have to pay for.
The Time is now for all to evaluate how our country is heading and speak up for equal rights and justice for ALL THE PEOPLE. Our Constitution Says; “We the people of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our
In the book of Wisdom we read; “Love Justice, you who judge the earth think of the Lord in Goodness and seek Him in integrity of heart” (Wisdom 1:1) “God does not rejoice in the destruction of the living for God furnished all things that they might have being…ALL the creatures of the world are wholesome” (Wisdom 1:14-15) “It is the wicked, the sons of Satan who with hands and words invited death and destruction considering it a friend” (Wisdom 1:16) We are also told in Wisdom 15 “Justice is undying”.
The truth is that justice is undying unless the devil has taken control of those humans who are commissioned to uphold it. This nation’s founding fathers had a deep-rooted sense of faith in God.
Justice is undying only when it is coupled with honesty, trust, faith and generosity, compassion and freedom.
I urge each and every one who reads or hears this message to think about our freedom, think about how you are contributing to the ideals this country was founded on. Are you being generous, trusting, honest, and faithful to what Christ taught when he told us; “Love one another as I have loved you” and “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?” (1 John 3:17); “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:27)
Are you working to insure that EVERY citizen is accorder the same rights and privileges as the others? Are you accepting the unique differences of races and beliefs that have melded together to form this more perfect union? As long as each and every person is respecting the RIGHTS of the other, and reaching out to all with the same LOVE that Jesus demonstrated to all He encountered, there is a chance that we might find ways to end poverty, homelessness, violence, prejudice, hatred, and discrimination that have been injected into this world by Satan to keep us confused and unbalanced and casting doubt on the Love of Almighty God.
I pray that God will inspire the leaders of this nation and the world to find peaceful and compassionate ways to bring about a more perfect world where equality, justice, truth, honesty, trust and happiness exists for all God’s children. AMEN
Rev. Robert Francis Johnnene OFD