In these readings, we hear about being called – and not turning back.
We have the Lord Jesus setting the apostles straight
about the right way to carry out his call.
And we have St. Paul, right in the middle, talking about “freedom.”
That’s a word we love, especially as Americans.
Unfortunately, what it means politically, and what it means in the Bible,
are far from the same.
Our social and political version of “freedom” is,
I want to do what I want. “The American Dream.”
Leave me alone, Big Government!
Don’t track me online, Big Tech!
St. Paul reminds us why God gives us freedom:
So that you and I can become who we are meant to be.
To be our “best version of ourselves” as someone else said.
This disagreement about what true freedom means
is at the heart of so much that divides us as Americans.
Look at what happened on Friday.
June 24 must go down in history as a great day,
because the U.S. Supreme Court
corrected a terrible error from 50 years ago.
In overturning Roe v. Wade,
the court stopped being a roadblock to protecting unborn children.
But notice how much rage is being generated, along with anxiety.
And I am not making light of anyone’s feelings here.
But notice what people are angry about:
to their view, they lost a “freedom.”
Freedom to do what?
Well, there’s no nice way to say it: to take a human life.
And that’s why so many of us are celebrating:
because now, the unborn can regain their freedom simply to live.
With God’s help you and I must be messengers
for this true freedom, again, not just license to do as we please,
but to be truly and fully human as God created us to be,
and to allow every child of God that freedom,
including his smallest children.
Answering anger with anger won’t help.
Responding to anxiety and fear with love and patience will heal.
For example, Archbishop Schnurr sent out an email yesterday,
encouraging all of us to keep supporting efforts to help women
and families facing difficult circumstances around a pregnancy.
There are wonderful efforts already happening in this community,
and if you never got involved before, now is a great time to start.
I will mention four organizations right around us:
Rustic Hope, Elizabeth New Life Center,
New Choices shelter for those facing domestic violence,
and Shelby County Right to Life.
This is a good time to mention Project Rachel,
which seeks to offering reconciliation, healing, and peace
for those involved in an abortion.
This truly is a moment to celebrate and give thanks to God.
That’s why we’re using a Mass of Thanksgiving today,
as the Archbishop suggested,
instead of the usual prayers for this Sunday.
There seemed to be no right place to say the following,
so I’ll say it right now.
This is my last weekend with you as your pastor.
No words are adequate. My heart is full. Thank you so very much.
Enough about me; let’s get back to God’s work.
There are some powerful lessons to take from these amazing events.
One: never give up! I am 60, and it took most of my life
to get to this point, and I truly wondered if I’d live long enough.
Two: this is a work of Divine Providence.
This isn’t just about politics. Pause to notice God’s hand at work.
As Christians, helping people see that is also our task.
Yes, laws must change. So must hearts.
Three: you and I must get right back to work on this.
Not everyone understands what happened Friday.
The Supreme Court did not outlaw anything.
It decided to overturn prior rulings
that blocked laws protecting the unborn.
So now you and I as citizens must tell our governor and our legislators
to do their jobs and protect unborn children.
All these years, candidates like our governor,
senators, congressmen, and state officials told us:
they would protect the unborn from the moment of conception.
But the courts were blocking them,
and they couldn’t do more than half-measures.
God has removed those roadblocks!
Now, you and I must respectfully, but vigorously, tell the politicians:
Do what you always said you’d do when the time came.
The time has finally come! Thank God!
Finally, as we celebrate and give thanks,
we might take inspiration from the words of Abraham Lincoln
in his second inaugural address,
as the Civil War was, thankfully, near its end:
With malice toward none, with charity for all,
with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right,
let us strive on to finish the work we are in,
to bind up the nation's wounds
[and] to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace.
That sounds like an excellent plan.