ON THIS FOURTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME we also celebrate Independence Day weekend in our country, founded 239 years ago. This year, however, we have seen a growing populous of Americans pledging to be “one nation under God” yet increasingly turning away from being under God – choosing the golden calf of the U.S. Supreme Court over God our loving Father and Creator, yearning more to follow the opinions and feelings of human beings than adhering to the timeless truths of faith and morality revealed to us by God in Sacred Scripture, people holding up signs saying “Christianity is a religion of hate” which could not be farther from the truth. Of course this “choice” – follow the way of God or follow the thoughts of humanity – has been going on for eons, and by studying history we know the outcomes. Without realizing it, people often begin to change their faith from one of faithful obedience to the divine and loving God to one of compliance with civil laws and jurisprudence, prevailing opinions and beliefs of human origin. We forget that “we must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). And thus my concern as a priest, one who is genuinely concerned about the welfare and salvation of all souls, is twofold – humanity’s relentless chipping away at the covenant that God established with His people, and the fate of souls who choose to obey men rather than God. To remind everyone of God’s loving covenant, in the Old Testament an agreement was established between God and Israel in which God promised protection to the Chosen People in return for exclusive loyalty. “If you obey my voice and hold fast to my covenant, you of all nations will be my very own” (Exodus 19:5). Moses presented Yahweh’s offer to his people, who promptly “answered as one, ‘All that Yahweh has said we will do.’” The compact was sealed (Exodus 19:8). Many years later Jeremiah prophesied that a new covenant would be offered. “Deep within them,” Yahweh promised, “I will plant my law, writing it on their hearts” (Jeremiah 31:31-34). Ezekiel foresaw that God would “make a covenant of peace with the, an eternal covenant” (Ezekiel 37:26). Its universal character was foreshadowed by Isaiah, to whom it was revealed by Yahweh, “so that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth” (Isaiah 49:6). In the New Testament, when Saint Paul was explaining to the Corinthians the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper, he repeated Christ’s words: “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, Whenever you drink it, do this as a memorial of me” (1 Corinthians 11:25). This master idea of the New Testament is reinforced in the Letter to the Hebrews: “It follows that it is a greater covenant for which Jesus has become our guarantee” (Hebrews 7:22). Christ Himself is the new covenant between God and His people. So today each of us might ask ourselves: where is our loyalty, where is our love to God as our part of the covenant if we choose to follow civil laws and judicial rulings versus the way of God? When we freely choose man over God we break the covenant; the result is we place our souls in jeopardy, as occurs any time we freely choose to turn away from God. By turning away from God we demonstrate by our actions that we are choosing something – anyone and anything – over Him, His divine truths, His teachings, His do’s and don’ts. When we choose this we are not showing our love for God – our loyalty to Him as our part of the covenant – but just the opposite. Blessed Louis Guanella once said: “There is need of living well, but there is even more need of dying well. A good death is everything, especially today where people think only of things and enjoyment here on earth, rejecting eternity.” Thus each of us should desire to live lives that are pleasing to God, ensuring our soul is always ready for our eventual death. Does God take us back after we have chosen to stray from Him?  Of course He does, because God loves us! That is the beauty of the Sacrament of Reconciliation given to us, out of love, by Jesus Christ. But we need to be more attentive to our covenential relationship with God, nourishing ourselves spiritually with the timeless truths of Scripture and with the Blessed Sacrament. We also need to pray for all who stray from God, that they will return to Him. We must also pray constantly that despite the temptations of the world we will live up to our end of the bargain – God’s loving covenant with His people – by doing His will.  A prayer by Saint Francis of Assisi can be most helpful:  “Most High, Glorious God, enlighten the darkness of my mind, give me right faith, a firm hope and perfect charity, so that I may always and in all things act according to Your Holy Will.”