“Jesus,” the Gospel tells us today, “was amazed at their lack of faith.” That’s very bad news, like getting a rejection letter from the college of your choice, or being dressed down by your best friend. Jesus’ question, “when He returns, will the Son of Man find any faith on earth?” haunts us. To be told our faith is inadequate is very painful, and I’m sad to have to say that the faith on which our nation was founded is rapidly evaporating. Sunday Mass attendance is a good barometer of faith. Only about 25% of the Church in this country follow this minimum requirement, even though Jesus is clear that without the Eucharist we die (“Unless you eat the flesh of the son of man, you have no life in you”). Of course, most of us here at Mass are faithful to the Mass, but what about the 75% who don’t join us on Sundays? We must find a way to help them. “Son of Man,” God told the prophet Ezekiel in the first reading, “I am sending you to the house of Israel, rebels… they and their ancestors have revolted against me to this very day.” Rebels, yes, but beloved of God, or he wouldn’t send his prophet. “And whether they heed or resist—for they are a rebellious house—they shall know that a prophet has been among them.”
They must know that a prophet has been among them
Do you have children or grandchildren? You are that prophet to them--you must find a way, even if that means only making the sign of the cross at meals. They must know that God exists. Do you work with others in an office, or a lab, or in the entertainment industry? You are their prophet, even if it means only wearing a cross, or saying you will pray for them in distress, or say “God bless you” or Merry Christmas instead of Happy Holidays. Be brave, be confident witnesses to the love of Jesus to them. It means refusing to gossip, and refusing to cheat, and refusing to swear when everyone is doing it. They must know. They must know that they are loved.
Rights endowed by their Creator
We celebrated the Birth of our nation yesterday. In 1776 the Continental Congress witnessed powerfully to God’s law by writing the Declaration of Independence. All people, they wrote, are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, rights and duties in accord “with the laws of nature and of nature’s God.” On a lighter note, I had breakfast in England yesterday (July 4th) and mentioned to the priests at table that it was the anniversary of America’s Declaration of Independence. “Please excuse,” I murmured, “any unpleasantness between our Congress and your King in 1776.” “Oh no!” Fr. Dominic replied with a beaming smile. “Best thing that could’ve happened to us. I’m all for people governing themselves.”
Yes, it is God’s will that we govern ourselves, but in accord with God’s natural laws. Tragically, five of our Supreme Court justices last week departed from the principles set forth in our Declaration. But wonderfully, four Catholic justices courageously witnessed to the laws of nature and of Nature’s God. Not King George, not President Obama, not even our Supreme Court has to authority to endow us with these fundamental rights. Only God can do that, and we will lose these rights if we disown Him from whom they come. Do the people we work with, do the people we sit with on an airplane, do the people we stand with in the check-out line—do even our own relatives and friends—know that a prophet has been among them? Have they heard us speak of God, and seen His Word shining in our lives?
The Prophetic Task
It’s not easy. We will fail and at times disgrace ourselves in this prophetic task. We will say the wrong words at the wrong time, we will get angry, we will get confused. But we must try. Jesus himself failed to work miracles in that district because most people rejected him. The pressure to conform to secularist doctrines, to deny God’s existence, is intense in our country right now. But in the end we must all go before God and answer this question: did your friends and relatives, did your co-workers and neighbors know that a prophet had been among them? We are grateful for the manifest blessings of living in this country, and gratitude expresses itself in service. I can think of no better service to our country than in calling her back to her original greatness, one nation under God, founded on the virtues of true religion, faith in a power higher than ourselves. In that way we uphold the principles of our Declaration and our Constitution.
We must turn to Our Lady for inspiration and consolation. She will help us know how to speak and when to speak the truth, the truth in love. No one will listen to us if we do not speak with love. Let us pray our rosaries, let us be faithful to Mass and confession, let us study our Bibles and our catechisms holding the hand of Our Lady, and we will indeed be the prophets, the witnesses, the Catholics that God calls us to be.