Wednesday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time (Independence Day)
(Amos 5:145-15.21-24; Matthew 8:28-34)
As the United States celebrates the anniversary of its foundation, stress fractures appear along its base. The people are deeply divided on a number of fundamental issues. At what point in a human life should a person be given the protection of law? What constitutes a family? Is there a right to take one’s life? What responsibilities does the nation have for the poor of other lands? To what extent should a person be allowed to protect her own life? These questions are testing the strength of the nation.
Turning to Scripture for help with answers, we find in today’s first reading the prophet Amos exhorting Israel to act justly. Speaking on behalf of God, he stresses the necessity that the people do what is good. For Amos this means full adherence to the Mosaic Law, not just to its prescriptions for ritual. Jesus in the gospel demonstrates how this is carried out. He goes out of his way to liberate two men who are possessed by demons. It is an act of justice as well as mercy. No one should be subjected to the domination of evil.
As citizens of the United States we see Jesus as our hope as well as our model. Like him we want to assist our neighbors live in peace. We also pray to him for guidance. We need his Spirit to discern how to promote universal flourishing. We need as well his grace to lead the nation in making sacrifices for that end.