Friday, July 4 ~ Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time
~ Independence Day ~
Holy Gospel: Matthew 9:9-13
As Jesus passed by, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples. The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” He heard this and said, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, I desire mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”
We live in a world where Jesus constantly invites each of us to follow him. And yet, on this day when we celebrate our country’s birth, there are many reasons to celebrate the blessings that God has bestowed on our country, and causes for concern about the freedoms we exercise. Does Christ invite us to follow him to view pornography? Does Jesus invite us to follow him by participating in any way in having an abortion? Does Jesus invite us to participate in same-sex marriage? Of course not, as these are contrary to God’s laws and the teachings of Jesus Christ. And yet so many Americans – including those who call themselves Christian – regularly participate in these sinful acts and, in doing so, choose not follow Christ. On this day when we celebrate the birth of the United States of America, let us pray that our fellow citizens – men and women of all ages, walks of life, and religious faiths – will turn away from all that separates us from the love of God, and in doing so simply take up Jesus Christ on his personal invitation to each and every one of us when he says: “follow me.”
Father of all nations and ages, we recall that day when our country claimed its place among the family of nations; for what has been achieved we give you thanks, for the work that remains we ask your help, and as you have called us from many peoples to be one nation, grant that, under your providence, our country may share your blessings with all the peoples of the earth. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
What is God’s call on your life? When Jesus saw Matthew sitting at his tax office – no doubt counting his day’s profit – Jesus spoke only two words – “follow me.” Those two words changed Matthew’s life forever, from a self-serving profiteer to a God-serving apostle who would bring the treasures of God’s kingdom to the poor and needy. Jesus says “follow me” to every man and woman on this earth. The question becomes, how do you respond to Jesus’ invitation to follow him? Take Christ up on his personal invitation to “follow me,” and in doing so let your life be forever changed.
A Prayer for Our Nation
God, Our Father, Giver of Life, We Entrust our Nation to your loving care. Your are the rock on which this nation was founded. You alone are the true source of our cherished rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Reclaim this land for your glory and dwell among your people. Send your spirit to touch the hearts of our nation’s leaders. Open their minds to the great worth of human life and the responsibilities that accompany human freedom. Remind your people that true happiness is rooted in seeking and doing your will. Through the intercession of Mary Immaculate, patroness of our Land, Grant Us the Courage to reject the “Culture of Death”. Lead us into a new millennium of life. We ask this through Christ, Our Lord, Amen.
A Prayer for Religious Freedom from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
O God our Creator, from your provident hand we have received our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. You have called us as your people and given us the right and the duty to worship you, the only true God, and your Son, Jesus Christ.
Through the power and working of your Holy Spirit, you call us to live out our faith in the midst of the world, bringing the light and the saving truth of the Gospel to every corner of society.
We ask you to bless us in our vigilance for the gift of religious liberty.
Give us the strength of mind and heart to readily defend our freedoms when they are threatened; give us courage in making our voices heard on behalf of the rights of your Church and the freedom of conscience of all people of faith.
Grant, we pray, O heavenly Father, a clear and united voice to all your sons and daughters gathered in your Church in this decisive hour in the history of our nation, so that, with every trial withstood and every danger overcome — for the sake of our children, our grandchildren, and all who come after us — this great land will always be “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Mary Immaculate, Patroness of the United States of America, Pray for Us.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of all the Americas and of unborn children, Pray for Us.
St. Thomas More, Patron of Religious Freedom, Pray for Us.