Amos 5:14-15, 21-24
Psalm 50:7, 8-9, 10-11, 12-13, 16c-17
Is God Trying to Tell Us Something?
When I discovered that the editor of these Daily Readings had scheduled me for the Readings for July 4th, I emailed her: “How come you asked a foreigner to write the Reflections for Independence Day?” She replied, “Maybe you will offer a new perspective!”
I wanted to change the “suggested readings” I found in my missalette. They were hardly festive. But I normally use the designated readings. The Second Vatican Council teaches in the Constitution on the Liturgy: When the Scriptures are proclaimed during the liturgy God is speaking! If I choose my preferred readings am I being open to what God wishes to say?
Many possible readings are allowed today. But these are the ones indicated in my missalette. They are borrowed from Wednesday of the 13th Week in Ordinary Time. I don’t know why they were selected. I have chosen to stay with them. I think they challenge the popular American notion of “Independence”!
Before you read any further, if you have not read the above noted readings, please read them now.
I often introduce myself as “your local resident alien” (I carry a “green card”). As an immigrant (from Canada) I am always conscious of subtle differences in American culture. I am also always conscious of the huge number of other immigrants who have come to this country to seek life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – both in the past and in the present.
“Independence” is a huge word in US culture! Independence Day is a festive day in the United States of America!
“Independence” for a person or a nation is a praiseworthy goal. We cannot be a truly mature person without independence – the ability to choose, decide, and to act according to our values, abilities, and opportunities. But independence without awareness of the presence of others, without concern for their independence alongside our own, can become arrogance, belligerence, and oppression.
Independence is not license to do as we please without reference to others. Independence is freedom to enter into relationships for mutual benefit. Healthy independence within a nation is an opportunity to enter into relationships which facilitate the good of all. Such independence, in its fullness, becomes “interdependence.”
The more we grow into lived interdependence within our nation, the more we will be able to grow in healthy interdependence with other nations for the good of all people.
My prayer, this 4th of July is: “America, God shed his grace on thee, and crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea” and beyond… Amen!
- Fr. John M. Lee, C.P., Retreat Director, “The Passionist Spiritual Center in New York City”, Bishop Molloy Retreat House, Jamaica, NY www.bishopmolloy.org