Thursday, June 22, 2017

Memorial of Saints John Fisher and Thomas More, martyrs

(II Corinthians 11:1-11; Matthew 6: 7-15)

As the Fourth of July approaches, Americans think about patriotism.  What might they do for their country?  They may want to display a flag or to explode firecrackers.  But these acts are superficial.  Love of one’s country entails sacrifices for the good for which the country stands.  We have examples of this deep kind of patriotism in today’s saints.

Saints John Fisher and Thomas More lived in Tudor England.  John was a churchman and Thomas, a lawyer.  They were loyal subjects of Henry VIII until the king placed himself above justice.  They then ceased to serve although they did not protest publicly.  Still Henry demanded their allegiance and eventually beheaded them for not giving it.  Among Thomas’ last words was the proclamation of patriotism's right order: “I am the King’s good servant, but the Lord’s first.”

Americans will soon have to struggle with the questions of illegal immigration.  Millions of immigrants have either entered the United States illegally or stayed, again illegally, beyond the time permitted by their visas.  Most of these people have established a home in the country.  They have worked, gave birth to children, and built strong social ties.  Patriotism calls citizens to discern a just way of resolving their status.  It seems cruel to send the undocumented packing.  Yet law-breaking should not be ignored.  Somehow the undocumented must be penalized without jeopardizing their future.