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Homily for the Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Updated: Jul 2

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Saint John Baptist de LaSalle/Saint Stephen

Wisdom 1:13-2:24; Psalm 30; 2 Corinthians 8:7-15; Mark 5:21-43

June 30, 2024

We are only a few days away from the Fourth of July.

People will be out in force this year, celebrating our Independence Day. Most people probably do not know why they are celebrating, but then again, they do not really care. It’s party time, and everybody loves a good party, especially if you are young, but I’m not. Age may have something to do with our ability to attend the party, however age does not affect the fact that what we are celebrating is 248 years old.

The bottom line is this: What we are celebrating is that no other country in the world enjoys the freedom we have here in America. We truly do live in the land of the “Free,” for America is a place where people can, as St. Paul says, "excel in every respect." Personally, I am a bit annoyed by people who cannot see the goodness this great country of ours has to offer to all people, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me.”

So, three years ago this past week, I made a journey to McAllen, Texas, just to see if I could understand what was happening to these many people who were trying to cross our southern border, “yearning to breathe free.” Everyone I spoke with had dreams of being free, both politically and spiritually, and it was for those reasons that they were applying for asylum in this country. I wondered how many of them would ever realize that dream, a dream that we once had, and now have taken for granted.

The words of Saint Paul from today's Second Reading kept coming into my mind. Paul says, if God is so generous to us, should we not be generous to others? Paul quotes from the Book of Exodus, "Whoever had much did not have more and who had little did not have less." The generosity of Catholic parishioners has always impressed me.

Our people have always come forward and supported our parish, even in difficult times. All that was needed was that we were asked. Not only have you shared financial resources, but also time and abilities. You have made possible a wonderful parish and mission parish where all people are welcomed here and beyond. You have reached out to help Catholic Charities, the Diocesan Support Appeal, Forward in Faith Hope and Love, and the work of the Holy Father. By your stewardship of time, talent, and treasure, you are making a powerful statement. You have given of yourself, and in the process, all of us have been blessed.

For all its problems, mistakes, and failures, this is a great country, and you and I are grateful to be part of it. People see our country as a place where they can, as St. Paul says, excel in every respect. We have a beautiful country, but we could lose it. That is why we need to return to the practice of our faith. Religion calls us to repentance, to be a compassionate people, as Jesus was compassionate. Religion promotes solidarity, to be one people, as Jesus and the Father are one.

We do not wait for the government to solve our problems, and when the government makes unjust laws, we don't just sit back or protest, we dive in to solve the problem. We have a society with much freedom to act on our own. We are grateful to God for the freedoms we enjoy. When government laws affect those freedoms, particularly freedom of religion, we join with all religious people in pushing back. We do not need to be afraid for we have faith. May America continue to be a place where people can, as St. Paul says, excel in every respect.

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