Monday, July 4, 2016
The Vocation of a Nation
Travel always reminds me, this country still holds within it, the promise, the hope of greatness, of nobility and opportunity (politics not withstanding). As a nation, regardless of where you are in this land, we remain, a good, hopeful and eager to be something better type of people. Our neighbors matter, our cities matter, it's when we decide whatever it is, isn't our problem, rather than recognizing each of us have a stake in making this place better, that we fall into trouble.
When we stop being our brothers' keeper, when we think, "I pay taxes," therefore I've done my part, we become less than we're called to be as members of this nation.
I still believe this country can do what is good, true and beautiful, because I know the people who live here, still want what is good, true and beautiful in their lives. We dream big, we play hard, and we like to think that somehow, despite all our faults, deep down, we will find the courage to be people who when things get hard, do the right thing. Even fifty years of living hasn't convinced me otherwise.
So celebrate today with your family and friends. Eat, read the Declaration of Independence at the dinner table and be present to each other. Count your blessings which I hope are more numerous than the fireworks. Enjoy the day.
Then consider, what can you do to make wherever it is that you live in this country, better? What can you do in this year of Mercy, to be kinder, more just, a better steward, a better caretaker of the rights and liberties, the freedoms this country holds dear?
What can you do to become more informed, and more of a voice to help take some of the acridity of politics away?
What can you do to change the tone of the current discussion from constant name calling and petty insults, to something deeper and more in keeping with what we aspire to be, on a local, state and national level?
I recognize, the current way of things can make one want to just wash your hands and say, "A pox on both your houses," to the available offerings, or to just refuse to engage. I know because it remains a temptation, to seek somehow to be neutral. But lukewarm is never satisfying as a way of life, nor is it a solution to any problem.
The Catholic response to life, to struggle, to suffering, to injustice, to argument, to disagreement, to violence and to evil, is not to withdraw, but to heal, to help, to educate, to minister, to examine, to ponder, to repair, to apply grace to whatever endeavor or situation one experiences.
If everyone who viewed the fireworks were to go and seek to put their talents toward the care taking of this nation and its people, the explosion of goodness would be bigger and longer lasting than any display we might watch this week, and more meaningful than any slogans or campaigns being offered this election cycle. We'd move the nation and lead the leaders.
Saint Catherine of Sienna said, if we would be who "God wants us to be, we would set the world on fire." That's a calling to go out and act, and the purpose of every life. Imagine the world that would be.
It isn't easy but the reality of that quote promises a life and world more luminous and beautiful. It would also leave an impression more lasting than all the fireworks.
Happy 4th of July!
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