Monday, July 4, 2016

July Fourth

The Beatitudes are surely not the US government standard way of proceeding but ours as Catholic Christians. This life of Gospel values which Jesus presents as a plan for God’s Kingdom is intrinsically counter-cultural, still is, and always was. We rejoice when there is a confluence between Jesus’ ideals of care for the poor and justice for the oppressed and the policies and practices of our nation. When there is not, we promise always with him to prefer the poor and the needy, to protect their rights and do all we can to alleviate their suffering.

Indeed, the citizens of the Kingdom of God are not arrogant but “poor in spirit” for they recognize their fundamental dependence on God. They mourn over injustice and wickedness committed against their brothers and sisters and will suffer persecution to eliminate injustice and evil. They are meek and patient in their own afflictions and not prone to violent retaliation, for they are merciful, pure of heart and makers of peace. Their hearts are made pure by their Creator and Savior.

We, the children of immigrants and exiles, ought never to forget all the blessings we now enjoy in this great nation, for with all these blessings come also great responsibilities. And so fittingly we recall the words of Emma Lazarus, who wrote the poem The New Colossus that is engraved on the base of the Statue of  Liberty:

          Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
          With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
          Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
          A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
          Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name: Mother of Exiles.
          From her beacon hand
          Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
          The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
          “Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
          With silent lips.   “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, 
          I lift my lamp beside the golden door.