Whoever Loves Me Keeps My Word
For more than 20 years, Catholics have gathered at Nativity Parish on Evansville’s south side for a July 4th Mass. Holy Rosary Parish and Annunciation of the Lord Parish join the Nativity parish for this Eucharistic celebration of God and country. Following is Nativity Pastor Father Henry Kuykendall’s homily from the July 4 Mass.
As we gather to celebrate our independence and sing our patriotic songs I would like to first share a few funny things about our country.
…Only in America can a pizza get to your house faster than an ambulance.
…Only in America do people order double cheeseburgers, large fries and a
…Only in America do we leave cars worth thousands of dollars in
the driveway and put our junk in the garage.
…Only in America do we buy hot dogs in packages of ten and buns
in packages of eight.
Today is not “Independence Day” but “Declaration of Independence Day.” It took seven years of struggle before the war ended and a constitution could be written. On July 3, 1776, George Washington wrote a letter to his wife, saying, "In a few days, you will see a declaration setting forth the causes for this revolution and the reasons to justify it in the sight of God.” Of the 56 who signed the declaration, nine died in battle; five were tortured to death; 12 had homes burned to the ground; and two lost children in the army.
As we celebrate our love for and allegiance to our country where freedom reigns, we sometimes need to be reminded that our love for and allegiance to God comes first. We sing "God Bless America" and think God plays favorites; but for God; there are no national boundaries. All people, of every country, color, language and religion are loved equally and unconditionally by the God, who created us all in the God’s image and likeness.
The Statue of Liberty says: “Give me your tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore, send the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me; I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
What does that mean today? Was that message only for Germans or Irish? Do we still have a responsibility for those poor, tired, huddled masses still yearning to be free, even if African, Asian, from the middle-east or Hispanic children pouring over our borders without parents escaping torture and death in South America? What can I do? What can you do to help?
USI’s women’s softball team was playing UE. USI’s Sarah hit a home run over the fence. As she circled the bases she fell and lay in the dirt a few feet from home plate. Her teammates ran to help her, but the coach stopped them because the rules say that if a teammate runs on the field, Sara would be out. While Sarah groaned in pain unable to move an inch – forever losing her first and only homerun – two UE players lifted her up and carried her over home plate. Even though they lost the game the girls said, “She deserved a home run. We helped her because it was the right thing to do.”
Isn’t that the Christian message? We help one another because it is the right thing to do as – Jesus taught us. As Christian Americans we sometimes have to struggle with the rules when our government acts in ways we feel are contrary to God's ways. We must not be silent. Our first allegiance is to God, whose truth still marches on.
As Christians we are pro-life, from womb to tomb, and every year in between. We love, respect and will fight for the rights of the unborn and the newborn, those who are challenged mentally or physically, the elderly and the terminally ill, those on death row and their victims, and all women and children who are victims of violence, abuse or trafficking.
We believe that we are free not only because of those 56 who signed the Declaration of Independence and the millions who fought during these 238 years to build our freedom on the principles of the Bible, but because God has made us and all people on this earth free: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men AND women are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among these are Life, Liberty, and pursuit of Happiness.”
God has not promised us skies always blue;
flower strewn pathways all of our lives thru;
God has not promised sun without rain;
joy without sorrow, peace without pain;
But God has promised strength for the day;
rest for our labor, light for the way;
peace for the trials, help from above;
unfailing sympathy, undying love.”