Independence Day Homily
We join with the rest of our brothers and sisters (over 300 Million) in celebrating Independence Day. I am happy and thankful that you come here today to celebrate the Holy Eucharist with us as we give praise and thanks God for the gift of freedom, freedom not just from foreign control but also freedom from sin.
The fourth of July is a day of parades, political speeches, fireworks and back yard barbecues, etc. But most of all it is a day of celebrating our Independence; an independence which was won and is maintained by the sacrifice of many lives. We are celebrating an Independence that is not absolute. Adam, the first man, thought that he had Absolute Independence and we are still suffering from the effects of it. Only God has Absolute Independence.
Our Independence is rooted in our Dependence on God. We are contingent, dependent beings. An independent creature is an intrinsic impossibility. Not even God can create an intrinsic impossibility. God can create a square and God can create a circle but not even God can create a squared circle. It is an intrinsic impossibility. That is why the First Commandment is also the greatest Commandment (You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind). Only if we are completely dependent on God we can enjoy freedom. Either we are dependent on God or we will be dependent on some creatures.
Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli, Diocese of Patterson
The city of Damascus in Syria claims the title of being the world’s oldest continuously inhabited city. The Hyksos, the Aramaeans, the Assyrians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Muslims, the Mamelukes, the Ottomans and the French have all left their imprint on this ancient city. Today, in the midst of a protracted civil war in Syria, its citizens cling to their normal routine in the shadow of Roman ruins and along the alleyways of the souks.
For Christians, the very name “Damascus” conjures up the memory of the conversion of St. Paul. On his way to this city to persecute Christians, the Risen Lord appeared to Paul. How appropriate that this same city would recently host the leading patriarchs of the Middle East who wished to face head on today’s brutal persecution of Christians.