Tuesday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time
(Genesis 19:15-29; Matthew 8:23-27)
Today the United States celebrates its existence as a self-governing nation. Two hundred and forty-one years ago the founders of the nation declared it independent from the English monarch. Of course, the new nation had to defeat the king’s army which was done after a protracted war. Because the peoples of many nations have risen to shake off oppressive rulers during the summer months, it is not inappropriate to speak of the relation of patriotism to Godliness today. It is possible to use the readings of the day for the reflection.
The first reading indicates that blessings on a land do not make its people virtuous. Lot had chosen the land to the east because of its great promise. The people there, however, were evidently bent on evil ways. They mistreated even the most virtuous of guests among, who can say what, other atrocities. The Lord’s judgment on their crimes could not be more severe. They are being annihilated.
The gospel shows Jesus’ disciples coming to him at an hour of crisis. A raging storm is sinking their boat. They fear for their lives and beg Jesus for help. No time in the history of the United States reflects this situation more than its Civil War. The nation, so wonderfully endowed, was being torn apart between those who believed in the rights of all humans to freedom and those who thought that some humans subject to slavery. Graciously the nation’s leader at the time had a strong sense of biblical justice. Abraham Lincoln called for “a new birth of freedom” where the “government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth.”
All peoples today should appeal to the Lord. We pray to him that our countries may follow just laws assuring the freedom of all. We dedicate ourselves to the formation of virtue like his so that wise leaders may rise up to guide the nation to peace. And we take compassion on the poor with whom he identified so that they do not lack what they need to prosper.