Celebrating Life, Freedom, Love!
Today’s Scripture selections present a powerful picture of God’s love challenging the power of sinfulness in the lives of all people. The prophet Amos speaks of the value of seeking good and hating evil, of embracing justice for all…letting one’s faith come alive so that our prayer and worship flow from an integrated life. The Gospel selection from Matthew recounts Jesus dealing with two men (both non-Jews) who were savagely possessed by demons; He addressed the demons and drove them away, promoting the inherent dignity of the two men…even as the watching townspeople were so frightened by Jesus’ power and love that they begged Him to leave the area! God’s love at work, to the benefit of all.
God’s love is at work in us as we celebrate this July 4th Independence Day, an important national holiday. Sure, the usual festivities of parades, speeches, lots of fireworks, family gatherings and food. And yet this year the demonic power of evil afflicts our time as well; our festivities are tempered by the continued presence of violence in our world (even close to home), the growing environmental challenges the world faces, smoldering racism, global economic woes, etc. Today we recall and celebrate our blessings, and we’re invited to see that God does have a plan to address the challenges of our world situation — perhaps a bit differently than we may expect. Jesus offers us His wisdom & patience & selfless love that challenges and drives away the power of evil, helping form a people that is truly free, truly life-affirming on all levels, truly generous in sharing its resources, truly aware of its position as a major player on the world scene.
Today, in Jesus, God gives a special “twist” to our lives: in His loving Plan, Jesus comes to set us free from our “demons” of sinfulness and selfishness, together celebrating and sharing God’s Love and Life with our needy sisters and brothers from around the world. Today, may we all move beyond the violence and selfishness, the fear and the mistrust, to celebrate our freedom and blessings as sons and daughters in God’s family. As the opening Collect prayer for today’ Mass states:
“God of love, Father of us all,
in wisdom and goodness you guide creation to fulfillment in Christ your Son.
Open our hearts to the truth of his gospel,
that your peace may rule in our hearts and your justice guide our lives.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son, who lives with you and the Spirit,
one God forever and ever. Amen!
Fr. John Schork, C.P. is a member of the Passionist community in Chicago, Illinois.