Monday, July 04, 2016


I will espouse you to me forever: I will espouse you in right and in justice, in love and in mercy; I will espouse you in fidelity, and you shall know the LORD.  Hosea 10:21-22

When Jesus arrived at the official’s house and saw the flute players and the crowd who were making a commotion, he said, “Go away! The girl is not dead but sleeping.” And they ridiculed him. When the crowd was put out, he came and took her by the hand, and the little girl arose. Matthew 9:23-25

We lift up our hearts, O God, on this day of celebration in gratitude for the gift of being Americans.
We rejoice with all those who share in the great dream of freedom and dignity for all.
With flags and feasting, with family and friends, we salute those who have sacrificed that we might have the opportunity to bring to fulfillment our many God-given gifts.
As we deny all prejudice a place in our hearts, may we also clearly declare our intention to work for the time when all people…will be granted equal dignity and worth.
Come, O gracious God, who led your children Israel from slavery, keep us free from all that might hold us in bondage.
Blass our country and join our simple celebration that we may praise you, our Source of freedom, the one in whom we place our trust. (Edward Hays, A Pilgrim’s Almanac, July 4)

In Paul’s letter to the Colossians, we read the line about Jesus: “He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he himself might be preeminent.”  However, is Jesus really the “first born from the dead?”  Not exactly.

Not including several cases detailed in the Hebrew Bible, Jesus was not the first to be brought back from the dead.  We know that Lazarus was raised from the dead before Jesus entered Jerusalem.  We hear today’s story about the official’s daughter.  In addition, in Luke, we encounter the widow of Nain’s son (Luke 7:11-17) and Jairus’ only daughter (Luke 8:52-56).  

The widow of Nain’s only son is the first of the three resurrections that Jesus performed.  Just as he celebrated Eucharistic-type feasts feeding the multitudes, he also foreshadowed his own resurrection.  Perhaps these three miracles were all part of the way Jesus prepared his followers for the Easter miracle.  Jesus also showed His power over death by raising the young daughter of Jairus, a synagogue leader (the same story recounted here in Matthew’s Gospel as well as in Mark 5:21 and following).  

In Mark, the official report is that the daughter is at the point of death.  In Matthew’s account, she has already died.  In Luke’s story, she dies while Jesus is delayed healing the unclean woman.   

One of the main points to these stories – and as they are told in the context of the 12-year illness of the woman with the hemorrhages – is that "faith can exist in seemingly hopeless situations."  Not only did his daughter’s illness and death challenge the faith of Jairus, but the delay caused by Jesus taking the time to heal the woman was an additional test to see if Jairus would be constant. Jesus woke the girl up from the sleep of death, the Lord has conquered the night.

Awake from your slumber
arise from your sleep
a new day is dawning
for all those who weep.

Let’s arise from our sleep.  Maybe the fireworks of the holiday will wake us up to what is happening in our surroundings and the wider world.  While we are celebrating freedom today, many people around the world do not share in the same life, liberty and happiness which was won for us.

We are challenged to put our faith into action to help the world’s poorest create the kind of lasting change that was created when our forefather’s pledge their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor for freedom, for history and ultimately, for our sake.

According to Catholic Relief Services (, the war in Syria has entered its sixth year.[i] In Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt, more than 4 million Syrian refugees—mostly women and children—are struggling to survive daily life.  Host countries' economies, social services, and basic infrastructure are strained to the breaking point. In addition to providing basic services, CRS focuses on education, care, and trauma counseling for Syrian children, many of whom have been out of school for most of their childhoods.

CRS provides resources so that you can pray, learn and act in solidarity with the Syrian refugees.  

[i] By contrast, the American Revolutionary War lasted from 1775-1783 (eight years). 

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