Today is a day of remembering the dead….
remembering those who died in military service to our country.
We do this with parades, and 21-gun salutes, with the playing of “Taps”
and with the conferral of posthumous honors.
As Christians, as followers of Jesus Christ, we do this with and in prayer.
We are mindful of the scripture passage that says
“it is a holy and wholesome thing to pray for the dead.”
We are mindful of the words of Jesus Christ when he says
“there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
We are mindful of the promise of life after death….
eternal life in that Kingdom of Peace.
And so we pray: “Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord. And let perpetual light shine upon them.
May they rest in peace. Amen.
May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace. Amen.”
We are grateful for those who have died, who have laid down their lives,
so that we can live in freedom.
And in our freedom, on this day, we choose to come before God,
believing that our witness, our presence here
will somehow draw the attention of our world to love:
the world was created in love….
and human life: existence, prosperity, happiness, security, peace, the highest human achievement
is founded in love.
Love is the way to true peace….and not violence, or power, or war…not might or dominance.
As a people we give witness to the truth
that peace is not found in physical wellbeing or material comfort;
peace is found in and through an ongoing loving relationship with God.
Today is a civil holiday. As Christian, Catholic citizens of this country
we choose to gather for worship.
I remember a time, when I was much younger, that the mayor,
the city council, the fire and police chiefs
all sitting in the front pew. Why?
Because they were invited, Catholic or not, to be a part of this necessary endeavor.
It would be great witness, an opportune time for evangelization,
for leaders of the civil community to be brought together for a common purpose…
for them to see and experience: the Catholic Church, the Catholic community
is interested in and supportive of the greater community,
interested in and supportive of efforts to overcome differences and promote peace.
If people are not reminded, if they remain unaware of a spiritual approach to a better world,
they will never choose such an approach.
We believe in something greater than ourselves.
We choose to come before God, to hear His word of goodness and truth
to receive live-giving bread
for we know and are reminded every day
that evil can twist hearts and minds
to hatred and violence and destruction and cruelty.
And the only weapon capable of defeating evil….is love.
We take time today to pray for peace, peace between nations,
between cultures, between religions.
Prayer for peace is good…but more is required of us.
I can pray to become a better golfer,
but until I practice, and practice the right things, my golf game will not improve.
We must choose peace, work hard for peace, cultivate peace, practice peace;
become aware of how our very hearts are not at peace with those around us…
family, neighbor, parishioner
and actively strive to overcome obstacles; willingly choose to build peaceful relationships.
Think of it this way: you can’t build a red brick building with yellow bricks.
You can’t build a peaceful society out of people who are not,
within the depths of their hearts,
people of peace.
To be undirected in this matter is to go astray.
And to believe peace will come through serendipity is to never know peace.
To say that it is someone else’s job to keep the peace,
the politicians, the military, the police, the government
is to squander our human freedom and surrender our destinies to a false God.
To say it is someone else’s responsibility to keep the peace
is to walk away from Jesus Christ….who says “ if you want peace….follow me”.
To follow the Prince of Peace, is to follow someone who had no part whatsoever in sin
and yet took responsibility, out of love, to overcome it.
He sacrificed his life, he spent his life, he invested his very self
so that the world might know peace.
The road to peace has already been paved. A bridge to peace has already been built.
We just need to take it.
Yesterday, Pentecost, we were reminded that Jews from various nations
heard the disciples in their own native tongue.
God has the power to overcome what keeps people apart.
As we remember those citizens of our country
who put their lives on the line,
whose blood bought the very freedom we enjoy
let us embrace their task of protecting and promoting
all that is good
so that their sacrifice will not be in vain.
Let us do so, not in and through the ways of the world, but in and through God’s ways.
The only solid footing for peace is to be found in God’s ways.
By taking any other way, we will trip and fall and perish.
“Help us, O Lord, remain firm in this purpose. Help us to care about peace.”
May God bring peace to our hearts and minds.
May God bring peace to our world.
Today is a day of remembering the dead….