14th Sunday of Ordinary Time – 3 July 2022 – Bible Readings for Mass: I: Isaiah 66:10-14; Responsorial: Psalm 66; II: Galations 6: 14-18; Gospel: Luke 10: 1-12, 17-20

Declaration of Independence ~ Artist Evie Cook

It is Independence Day weekend. Monday, July 4th we will celebrate 246 years as the United States of America. Although in the annals of history the United States is very young the brief centuries have brought an intense history integrated within eras of change that have transformed the world in ways never imagined. For some the United States is thought to have been a Christian nation. While distinct Christian beliefs were a part of some of our founders it is necessary to note the popular forces of humanism were also very much embraced by some of our early leaders. Yet this is one of the significant gifts of this nation, our diverse and ever-changing personality. Now in our present time we see an America were there is upheaval and stress as people struggle to make their perceptions of America the norm. Yet we also see many seeking, struggling to simply know… where do we belong? The birth of this nation followed the course of all births. It was conflicted, intense, painful and at times seemed without end. The issues, the discussions about our national challenges is for another place and time. But they remind us that for each of us the question has even greater significance. And as always the light of God’s Word helps us see this quest of belonging is not only about nationalities, lands and peoples. The quest of belonging is a quest to which we are called by God that we each may know to where, to whom we belong.

The reading from the Old Testament comes from the concluding chapter of the book of Isaiah. The prophet of God had shared a mission and message calling the people of Israel and especially Jerusalem to turn away from the powers of this world, of darkness and be faithful in their journey with God. The message to and for Jerusalem then and the new Jerusalem now was a call to trust God and experience the truth of who they were and where they belong.This last chapter is a glorious affirmation that the power and graces of God would prevail.

The New Jerusalem ~ The Church ~ The People of God (Artist unknown)

The quest of seeking where and to whom we belong is further explored in our second reading from Galatians and the Gospel. It is in the Gospel we read of Jesus sending forth the 72 disciples, in pairs to proclaim the Kingdom of God is at hand. This lesson of holy love shares the power of the peace of God they proclaimed to those to whom they were sent. People were healed, delivered from demonic darkness and brought into a relationship with God. The Messiah shares the vision He has of Satan falling from the sky as he instills in the disciples the power to prevail against the evil forces they would encounter. This again illustrates how this quest of belonging is not easy but may be fraught with battles and difficulties beyond our human resources. St. Paul would later write of this spiritual warfare in the letter to the Ephesians. And as he writes we are reminded that in the Holy Spirit we have every weapon and grace needed to prevail. Paul approaches this Christian reality in our reading from the letter to the Galatians.

“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ through which the the world has been crucified to me and I to the world.” This rule of Paul provides us with both our way and promise in our quest to know where we belong. The way of the cross is the way of greatest power over the forces of darkness that would seek to rob us of our holy destiny. For it is in the cross we share with our Lord we best experience His redeeming peace. It is in His cross we find His Body, broken to make us whole and His holy blood shed to cleanse and us and bring us life. It is at the cross we immerse ourselves in the waters of baptism where we join Jesus in His passion, death, resurrection and ascension into heaven. It is in and with the cross that together, in the Holy Spirit the lies of darkness are quenched and the truth that makes us free is proclaimed. This all happens at the cross, daily as we seek to follow Christ. And it is in our liturgy, our shared worship as the community of faith we best find and learn of this holy place, our home. And it is especially at Mass, called together by Christ to His holy table that we learn, share and help each other in our shared journey. And it is at the cross, with our Savior we discover where we belong. We discover and rejoice our names are written in heaven.