The Fourth, and the fifth, and the fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary time.


It’s the day after Fourth of July, Independence Day, but as I sit in this “land of the free” my thoughts are not fully devoted to  Americana. They are not directed towards the American Revolution in this New World, they turn back to Europe and the French Revolution. The French Revolution was known for the elimination of Christianity from France. It was that revolution that drove priests, and monks, and nuns from that country. It was the same revolution that put the churches and priests under the control of a French secular government. It was that revolution that produced the state sanctioned mockery of Catholic traditions, mocking especially the tradition of the Holy Catholic Mass. Enlightening.It was through France’s revolution that the worship of liberty, and the worship of reason, replaced the worship of Jesus Christ in the churches and cathedrals of France. It was that revolution that eventually produced the icon of Lady Liberty that adorns New York’s harbor. Lady Liberty, made in the image of the Roman Goddess Libertas. A gift to America.

Libertas plays a prominent role in today’s celebration, she will be seen against a backdrop of fireworks and celebrated in song. Sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Is Liberty, Libertas, our golden calf? Is she new age idolatry, and what are we declaring independence from? Independence, in America, is freedom from rule from a foreign nation. Independence though has a lot attached to it, Libertas is one of them. On this Fourth of July, do I celebrate our nation’s birth, do I celebrate its freedom from the British Empire;but do I bow before the pagan goddess liberty? There is a conflict on this day with the nation’s declaration of independence, and its notion of freedom.

Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults,
hardships, persecutions, and constraints,
for the sake of Christ;
for when I am weak, then I am strong

Independence, freedom, liberty, government of the people and by the people and for the people. The right to bear arms, the right to vote, the pursuit of happiness. Liberty and life. The American dream, the American experiment, democracy and capitalism. The Fourth of July and the American soapbox. The preaching of the politicians, and the rallying of a nation.

There is that statue that sits in a harbor, a gift from France, where lady liberty replaced the Eucharist emerging from the tabernacle. Lady Liberty and the height of the French revolution. It was the secularization of a nation, and an attack against Frances Catholics. It was the state sponsored replacement of a religion. America, freedom of religion. Freedom, and Liberty, and the Goddess of reason (aka politics). The American way, the American Religion. A lesson from the Old World. Some things never change. Old World, New World; it makes no difference.

But you shall say to them: Thus says the Lord GOD!
And whether they heed or resist—for they are a rebellious house—
they shall know that a prophet has been among them.

In today’s gospel, Jesus preaches in his hometown. Mk 6:1-6  People are at once impressed by His abilities to teach scripture, and also hostile to his claims as a prophet sent by His father. They know his history, and place his pedigree above His message. They do not accept Jesus as prophet and drive Him out of town. They certainly do not accept him as the Son of God. The first reading also is of a prophet delivering a warning to Gods chosen people. God’s prophets, how we listen to them, recognize them, ignore them, accept them, or distrust them.

The American dream, God bless America, land of Liberty, Land of the free. Who are our prophets, who delivers Gods message to us? How do we react to that message? There are a lot of people in America talking, and making proclamations, and acting like modern day Ezekiel’s though few would use that name.

Freedom of religion and Lady Liberty, the same lady that exiled Catholics from France. I can listen to the rhetoric of my country, I can celebrate freedom from foreign rule. can enjoy liberty like anyone else, but do I want to bow down before a false god? Do I want to worship an idol? Am I wrong to recognize someone that is against me? Should I keep my eyes open to persecution? Sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Is that a psalm of America, a new form of worship? If I can’t turn to Lady Liberty, to whom should I turn? I should have the liberty to do whatever I want, whenever I want ? What guides liberty? What are her constraints?

Jesus said to them,
“A prophet is not without honor except in his native place
and among his own kin and in his own house.”

Prophets are not always easy to spot, by I might learn some lessons from history. Do I mean to bash liberty, no I do not. I bash only to make a point. Liberty can be misunderstood and abused, especially by people in power. It can be a rallying cry for the wrong agenda. I can appreciate liberty, but I also wonder about worshiping it as a goddess. This is the environment the prophets preached in. They sometimes  told people what they did not want to hear, and the good prophets did not change their story to suit popular opinion. Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, and the light. The only way to the Father is through Me. Unpopular.

Odd that the Fourth should fall on a Saturday. To Catholics Saturday is not a day devoted to the Roman goddess Liberty, Catholics pray to one of their own on that day. Saturday, and even a Saturday that falls on the fourth of July, are devoted to the Mother of God. Today, I have someone to turn to more fitting than a deity sitting in a harbor. She is the one that tells me, the Catholic in the land of the free, to follow her Son. Her Son is the Son of God and not a jingle of patriotism. His words are not an ideology or idolatry, but a truth. True freedom, and true liberty. Surprisingly they are the words this countries “founding fathers” based their own words on. Their liberty was through Christ, and not a replacement of that true God. They prayed religiously. Who should I turn to today (actually yesterday), I am given a choice at least for now. I can wave a flag and make some noise and worship liberty, the goddess of a new religion. Or I can turn to Mary, and listen to her words to be obedient to her Son. Where does freedom ring? A lesson learned. Hail Mary !

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