Homily for the 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time July 4, 2021
The New Revised Standard Version translates this as “his home town”. The Greek Orthodox Bible translates it as “his own country”. So there is a little ambiguity about what St. Mark meant.
If we allow the insights of Matthew’s and Luke’s Gospel to guide us, then we know that Jesus really was born, not in Nazareth of Galilee, but rather in Bethlehem of Judea. And if we really want to be thorough, we need to admit the Prologue of the Gospel of John that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” So in Jesus’ fullest, truest identity He was not from Nazareth nor Bethlehem, but from God. He is the pre-existent Word of God, existing from beyond all time. Jesus’ true homeland, we could say, is in God. That is truly where Jesus is from and where He is most truly at home.
So, where are you from? What is your true homeland? What is your “own country?”
Today we celebrate Independence Day. Many of us were born in the USA. Others may have become naturalized as citizens of the United States like Fr Rene Constanza, and so now this is your homeland. Others may have other national homelands such as Mexico or Guatemala or the Philippines. Bult like with Jesus, is that really true? In the deepest sense, where is our true homeland? Where do we most belong? What is our ultimate citizenship?
TWO TWO TWO July 4, 2021
Well, St. Paul in the third chapter of his letter to the Philippians gives us the answer. Paul states: “But our true homeland is in heaven, and we are waiting for our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, to come from heaven. By his power to rule all things, he will change our humble bodies and make them like his own glorious body.” 3:20-21
Our truest, most basic and real homeland is union with Christ Jesus in heaven. That is what we were created for, and what is our ultimate destiny.
But that is not quite yet. We have a period of time, short or long, before we go to our true homeland in heaven. And in the meanwhile, we are here, in Austin, in Texas, in the US of A, on earth.
There are two ways that we can be mistaken about our real identity. One way is to so focus on our ultimate destiny that we ignore the real opportunities and obligations of living in the world. As members of this great country, we have an obligation to engage in politics and civic life, doing what we can to ensure justice, seek peace, and benefit all of society, especially those most in need. We are not hermits. We are called to engage in the world, and work to make Austin, Texas, and the United States, lands of liberty and justice for all. That is our sacred obligation.
The other danger is the opposite, to become so focused and engaged in the here and now and so forget our true identity as children of God, as members of the Body of Christ, as people destined for eternal glory by the salvific work of Jesus. It is all too easy to get caught up in the maelstrom of work and activities and politics and entertainment and be completely absorbed into the here and now, and to lose sight of our ultimate purpose and destiny. That is a tragic loss.
THREE THREE THREE July 4, 2021
Therefore, let us celebrate the Fourth of July. May we use this celebration of the birth of our nation as an opportunity to recommit ourselves to the founding ideals of our nation, that all people are created equal and are to be treated equally under the law.
Let us strive for the economic, personal and spiritual advancement of all our fellow countrymen. But let us not forget that our true homeland, our ultimate destiny, is not in these United States, but in union with God the Father, in Jesus the Son, through the Holy Spirt.