Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
RICH IN MERCY
This is Independence Day weekend, the Fourth of July, when in 1776, our forebearers declared independence from England. The Declaration of Independence has remained a sacred, founding document for our country, with its bold words, “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.”
This year’s Fourth of July has a different feel than most years.
The threat of a pandemic
hangs over plans for family gatherings. And,
at a time of continuing strife
, our nation is grappling with the unfulfilled promise of our founding spirit that “all are created equal” and that all “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.”
Even as we struggle to be faithful to our ideals, having those ideals spelled out is an important point of reference and a prod to our collective conscience.
In many ways, this is also the function of the Scriptures, proclaimed at every Eucharist.
As Christians, we believe that the Scriptures are God’s word to us, and therefore much more powerful and compelling than even our most revered civic documents.
There is no doubt that those values cited at the beginning of the Declaration of Independence are themselves influenced by the Scriptures, such as the notion that we are all sons and daughters of God and, therefore, endowed with equal rights as human beings.
The selections for this Sunday in Ordinary Time were not chosen to coincide with our national day, but, as you know, are proclaimed at every Mass this weekend throughout the world and in many Protestant churches, a fruit of the Second Vatican Council. Nevertheless, it is striking how the message of these readings is worth pondering on this Fourth of July when our nation is doing some soul-searching.
The first reading from the prophet Zechariah speaks of the future king or Messiah, not as a triumphant warrior or an arrogant despot, but as a “just savior,” meek and without pretense. Instead of entering Jerusalem on a war chariot, this humble king rides a donkey and brings a message of “peace to the nations,” “banning the warrior’s bow.” No wonder, then, that we hear this passage on Palm Sunday describing Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem.
The responsorial psalm has political tones, extolling God as King. But he is a king who is “gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness.” He is a Lord who is “good to all and compassionate toward all his works,” a Lord who “lifts up all who are falling and raises up all who ate bowed down.”
In the gospel from Matthew's account, Jesus invites us to share in the intimacy and love between himself and the Father. In one of the Gospel’s most memorable and beautiful passages, Jesus declares his bond of love with his Father. Flowing from that bond of love is his own compassion for those who are burdened and weary: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart.”
The second reading, from Paul’s Letter to the Romans, pulls together the common theme of today’s readings. Paul urges the Christians at Rome not to live “according to the flesh.” In Pauline theology, “flesh” means living with a self-centered and limited view of life. Instead, Paul is calling us to live “in the Spirit of Christ.”
He calls us to strive for those Christ-like and life-giving virtues of genuine humility, compassion, justice, and care for the burdens of others.
Liberty. Independence. The common good. Our country’s ideals that we celebrate this weekend are important. For those of us who believe in the Gospel, the witness of living in the Spirit of Christ will help heal the wounds of our nation and truly enable us to be a free and noble people.
El 4 de julio de este año tiene una sensación diferente a la de la mayoría de los años. La amenaza de la pandemia se cierne sobre los planes para picnics y reuniones familiares. Y, en un momento de contienda cívica continua, nuestra nación está lidiando con la promesa incumplida de nuestro espíritu fundador de que "todos son creados iguales" y que todos "están dotados por su Creador de ciertos derechos inalienables"
Aun cuando luchamos por ser fieles a nuestros ideales, tener esos ideales enunciados es un punto de referencia importante y un estímulo para nuestra conciencia colectiva.
En muchos sentidos, esta es también la función de nuestras Escrituras, proclamadas en cada Eucaristía. Como cristianos, creemos que los valores definitorios de las Escrituras son, en última instancia, la palabra de Dios para nosotros y, por lo tanto, mucho más poderosos y convincentes que incluso nuestros documentos cívicos más venerados.
No hay duda de que los valores citados al comienzo de la Declaración de Independencia están influenciados por las Escrituras, como la noción de que todos somos hijos e hijas de Dios y, por lo tanto, estamos dotados de los mismos derechos que los seres humanos.
El Evangelio de Mateo habla de la intimidad entre Jesús y su Padre. En uno de los pasajes más memorables y bellos del Evangelio, Jesús declara su vínculo de amor con su Padre. Fluyendo de ese vínculo de amor es la compasión de Jesús por aquellos que están agobiados y cansados: “Vengan a mí, todos ustedes que trabajan y están agobiados, y les daré descanso. Toma mi yugo sobre ti y aprende de mí porque soy manso y humilde de corazón."
Libertad. Independencia. El bien común. Los ideales de nuestro país que celebramos este fin de semana son importantes. Para aquellos de nosotros que creemos en el Evangelio, el testimonio de vivir en el Espíritu de Cristo ayudará a sanar las heridas de nuestra nación, y nos permite vivir como un pueblo libre y noble.
St. Joseph's Church Downtown is open
with the usual schedule
of weekday and weekend Masses, sacraments, and ministry. Because of increased coronavirus cases locally, social distancing, hand-sanitizing, and the use of a face mask are observed during church services, in order to keep everyone safe and healthy.
Videos of Sunday Mass and other Masses from St. Joseph's
are posted on YouTube at the St. Joseph Church Downtown Media page. We thank John Francis Strelcun and his parents for filming and editing these videos so beautifully.
Our parish continues to mourn the passing of
our beloved former pastor, Fr. Mario Marzocchi, SSS, who died peacefully at Regina Health Center in Richfield, Ohio, on June 24, after a short battle with cancer.
Memorial Masses will take place at St. Joseph's the weekend of August 1-2. St. Peter Julian Eymard, the Founder of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament and the "Apostle of the Eucharist," died on August 1, 1868; his feast in the Church's universal calendar is on August 2.
In a spirit of caring for each other in these difficult days,
we encourage you to support efforts to feed our neighbors in need via Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of San Antonio and local food banks.
Thank you for supporting St. Joseph
through our parish website (
) or Give Central (
Anthony Schueller SSS
on Sunday, July 5 at 11:05PM