Saturday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 328

Through Jesus, let us continually offer God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have; God is pleased by sacrifices of that kind.

Several years ago, with other chaplains from the VA, I attended a pep rally at the YUM Center in downtown Louisville. The program in support of our troops in Afghanistan began at 7:00 pm and included speeches by several recipients of the Medal of Honor, a Hollywood star, and loud music.

Within the first thirty minutes the audience rose to its feet nearly twenty times to huzzah a hero or signify our appreciation of some other patriotic theme. At one point soldiers in Afghanistan were contacted via Skype and asked to receive the applause of the crowd in Louisville. These young people, like children being kissed by a whiskery great aunt, didn’t seem to know what to do with the attention.

The program, after beginning with a flourish, didn’t appear to have an end. I left soon after 10:00pm, along with most of the crowd, even as the arena thundered under another patriotic anthem by another bearded good old boy.

At no point was the crowd asked to do any more than stand up and cheer. There was no mention of this war being underwritten by the Chinese, or that we might also sacrifice by voting, volunteering or cheerfully paying our federal, state and local taxes.

I attended a luncheon more recently to honor the sacrifice of a Gold Star family. Again no one asked the attendees to make any sacrifice even remotely similar to the one the family had made. I wondered, "Do Americans prefer to send their children to war than discuss the ordinary sacrifices of citizens? Is raising taxes to support our way of life a taboo subject?" 

When Christians celebrate Jesus we celebrate his sacrificial death on the cross and our own willingness to live sacrificial lives. The Mass does not encourage us to make our lives more comfortable. Rather, we plan to “do good and share what (we) have.” We may not pass the plate at our daily masses, but a Sunday mass without the collection would seem somehow wrong.

If religion seems hollow to many people, it’s either because no one asked them to give anything or they were unwilling to do so. Some, attending church for the first time in many years and discovering they’re expected to make a donation, stomp out of the church, hurling invectives as they retreat. 

That’s fine; let them go. We know why we’re here and are grateful for the opportunity to give back a portion of what we have received. 

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.