Memorial Day - 2012
Yesterday and today have offered a number of experiences and thoughts that make moving to the gospel story about the rich young man who could not give up his possessions certainly provides a challenges -- at least for me -- in preparing these thoughts for you. My experiences, all of them wonderful, do make clear once again, that praying truly demands some inner peace, inner quiet. Pentecost, for me, began with the vigil Mass Saturday evening. Yesterday was culminated with a Mass honoring the man who served as a Deacon in a parish where I first served as a Pastor. After 24 years of service to the parish, the Deacon was saying farewell as he prepares to move to another state. Of course it was a wonderful experience to be with the people who were so close and helpful to me during those almost nine years as their Pastor. Yet, I did feel that I was diminishing the Deacon's day in the sun as I realized how many people made a line to see me when we were there to honor the Deacon. He is a man who did so much for the parish during those many year. Most specially he was instrumental in leading this Pastor to establish what has become a frequently honored and most outreaching Knights of Columbus Council.
After those wonderful moments with so many friends, I returned to my quarters and watched the Memorial Day Concert held on the West Side of the US Capitol -- until severe weather forced so many to clear the grounds although the "show went on" under cover. What a moment to share with so many who were honoring the memory of some 42 million Americans who served in military service since the days of President George Washington (remarks by former Secretary of State, General Colin Powell). It was on more than one moment during the presentation quite emotional.
Today we celebrate Memorial Day, recalling the dedicated service of so many men and women. Yet, at first, it seems difficult to reflect on the gospel, the rich young man trapped by his possessions. Yet, perhaps he is a good model for us today. Why? How blessed I am. How blessed you are. God has given us so much -- not necessarily the coin of the country we live in. We have been given so many blessings, so much abundance. Our celebration of the many gifts of the Holy Spirit as well as the sacrifices of so many younger men and women through more than two hundred years of service to their beloved USA can, however, be united. Those who wore their uniforms with great pride, in many instances to their deaths, gave us many different kinds of possessions: Moms and Dads, siblings, relatives, spouses, children, friends, careers, educational goals and personal aspirations because they valued the liberty that is the most prominent characteristic of our nation. As an aside, it is this liberty that has our Church locked in contest with the Government at this time.
Let us try to pray with an abundance of gratitude to a God who has given us so much and for those who gave so much of themselves so we can continue to enjoy God's abundance in our country and the unselfish sacrifices of so many.