The call of Jesus is to come to HIM — it is not a call to come to church. “Churches” that focus on getting people into a pew and keeping them in line, will be dull and lifeless. “Churches” that call people to Jesus, to faith in Jesus, and Jesus-like-living will be lively and life-giving. [HJM]
Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free; The wretched refuse of your teeming shores, send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door. [Statue of Liberty]
Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. [Matthew 11:25-30]
On this fourth of July weekend [14th Sunday in Ordinary Time] the words of Jesus and the inscription at the base of the Statue of Liberty are eerily in sync. A welcome extended to ALL without distinction based on race, denomination, age, gender, sexual orientation, social class, ethnicity. Come to ME, ALL of you wh0 labor …..SEND these .. the homeless, tempest-tossed.
“Our Jesus” …. the one we worship, the one to whom we pray …. invites me and you and ALL those near and far to come to HIM.
“Our nation” … the one we pledge allegiance to … lays out a welcome mat to the “wretched refuse.”
The prophet Zechariah tells us that our Savior will come proclaiming peace without brandishing a sword. [Zechariah 9:9-10] St. Paul tells us clearly that we are in the spirit ONLY if the SPIRIT OF GOD dwells in us. [Romans 8:9-13]
This weekend, as we celebrate our nation’s independence — it could be a time for us to do more than enjoy barbecue, eat watermelon, and wave the flag — it is a time to celebrate with gratitude all that we possess. It is a time to renew our faith in Jesus who wants to bless all people.
I recently saw a poster that showed two Native Americans — dressed as we would image they would be in the 1500’s — listening to members of Congress argue against immigration … one of the men turned to the other and said, “So, when do THEY leave?”
I do not know all the answers …. I have no clear plan as to what to do … I do not know how to pay all the bills ….but I do know that living in “lock down”, building stronger and higher walls, sending kids from Texas to California ….. just does not seem to be right or the Christian thing to do. What would being “IN THE SPIRIT” mean, what would it look like?
As I was typing this reflection, a woman with a hat bearing the American flag, stood before the buses transporting immigrants to California saying, she was “tired of her taxes going to take care for all THOSE people.”
As I celebrate the freedom that comes to me because of “my” faith in Jesus and the freedom that comes to me because I live in the US, this I believe:
1. It is not my world or your world … it is God’s world. God created it … put us here … and calls us to stewardship. It is God’s world. I/we need to be careful about how I claim things as mine …. and look with scorn on “those” people.
2. It is not my country or your country … it is our country along with millions of other people. We SHARE a place in these 50 United States of America.
3. God has given us the intelligence to solve this challenge. If we would have the will, there is clearly a way. We are smart enough to solve this …. if we have the will.
4. 60 years ago schools were integrated. 50 years ago a voting rights bill was signed. Those were uncomfortable, uneasy times. Inclusion won out over exclusion.
5. I want to live in heaven one day — and there will be Catholics there of all varieties, there will be Protestants, Muslims, and Jews. There will be Europeans, North Americans, Africans, and South Americans. There will be people who had lots of money and people who died penniless. Do we really think we will have a favored place or status?
6. Almost 22 million Americans found a way to watch the US Soccer Team play the Belgians in the World Cup on Tuesday. We found a positive cause to unite around. Can we phrase our issues in a positive way to include all?
There are times when I am weary — there are times when I feel burdened. Thank God that Jesus is ready to show me the way …. that he invites me to be yoked to Him for guidance and support …. but wait … there is also a Mexican guy yoked to Him …. and there is a Black woman yoked to Him, too. Oh my …. there is even THAT GUY I cannot stand yoked to Him to!! What do I do … untie the yoke …. or move forward together?