Monday, July 3, 2017

God, Country and Family

Baptism of Jesus by John
Happy 4th of July weekend. We celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776 in Philadelphia. That document proclaims aloud: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Woodrow Wilson said this document is a “program of action” for all people.

This weekend, we might rededicate ourselves afresh to these principles for people everywhere, and not just in the United States. As we reflect on our own religious liberties, we might pray for the many people around the world, especially Christians in the middle east, who are being discriminated against or injured or killed for practicing their faith.

We have recently been celebrating the lives of some of the heroes of our faith, e.g., John the Baptist, Peter and Paul. Who are your favorite heroes and heroines in Christianity?  Why? One of my favorites is John the Baptist. He immersed people in the Jordan River as a sign of repentance, of their desire to be cleansed from old ways so that they could live a new way, oriented to God’s covenant. John prepares the way for Jesus, the bridge between two covenants that created a special relationship between God and us: that of the Hebrews and that of Jesus Christ.

Most importantly, John pointed to Jesus as the light, the Lord, the One to whom we owe our ultimate allegiance, the “Passover” or sacrificial Lamb of God through whose blood we have God’s eternal life. John is indeed the herald of Jesus, and challenges us to be heralds of Jesus in our families, workplaces and communities by the manner in which we live.

How might we prepare the way of the Lord in our families?

First, continue to create a better sense of togetherness, of closeness and care for one another. Keep in touch, even if it’s only by telephone or email or skype. Be hospitable, checking in with elderly relatives. Remember birthdays/anniversaries and celebrate them together, if possible. Participate in special family events, for example, graduations, baptisms, confirmation, marriages, Sunday liturgies, etc. Communicate; take responsibility for family chores, spend time with one another; share the good news as well as bad news; keep your word and build up trust.

Second, take control of your family life. There are so many activities today that can easily divide a family – activities all valuable in themselves – but if not checked, can rob families of time together.

And finally, parents have to let their sons/daughters become the persons God created them to be. The purpose of family is to nurture children in a secure and loving environment until they become mature enough to venture out on their own and become responsible persons. Parents have to let go of them so that they can take their place in the world as responsible adults.

Yes, there’s no better place to begin to prepare the way for the Lord than in our own families.

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