One of my favorite prayers is still the Stations of the Cross. As a prayer it is so engaging to “walk” with Jesus and to enter into the mayhem that surrounded the final moments of His earthly life. Brutality fueled by ignorance and “mob-rules” certainly should remind us of the seriously flawed choices we human beings can make given the right conditions. Of course, my favorite meditation point is the twelfth station: the Death of Jesus on the Cross. It is the centerpiece and the ultimate entry into the most tragic moment of human history.
During these days of the Fortnight for Freedom, I am reminded of the eighth station where Jesus Speaks to the Women of Jerusalem. It is a poignant moment where truth is spoken to a situation so filled with pathos and incongruity. I’m sure you remember the scene. Jesus stops at the sight of the women—perhaps some holding their small children—who are overwhelmed with sorrow for what is happening to Him. They are crying and filled with emotion. Jesus tells them not to weep for Him, but for themselves and for their children. Filled with dire prophecy, the Savior says: “If they do these things in the greenwood, what will they do in the dry?”
Well, they murdered the Prince of Peace, the innocent Lamb of God, in the sweetness of His youth and the height of His public ministry—the greenwood of His presence on earth. Now, of course, so many years later, can we expect that the prophecy will not be fulfilled in these arid days of unbelief?
The soul of humanity has been purchased by the shedding of the Savior’s precious blood on the Cross. The image of the cross itself has become a bauble, a piece of jewelry, a trinket. The sign of the cross—What Jesus has done for us—has been replaced with “What have you done for me lately?”
Delivering comfort and assistance to the poor as Jesus did with the weeping women, is part and parcel of what Jesus told His followers to do in His Name. Throughout the ages, the Church has been seen as the guarantor of healing, comfort, and care for the poor and marginalized. We have been recognized over the centuries, in hostile situations and difficult times, as those who bring consolation to the afflicted and moments of peace in all kinds of conflict.
People of faith, who follow the basic rule of life for peace and justice, have delivered on that rule, secure in the knowledge that they functioned with the basic freedom to do so in a free land. These people of faith, with a common sense rooted deeply in their hearts that made their service some of the best examples of compassionate and benevolent human kindness, now desire to be free to continue to serve while exercising their faith according to the dictates of their consciences.
The Federal government, through various restrictions limiting fundamental legal rights, guaranteed by the Constitution and established traditions of our country, now tries to limit the works of charity that can be done by people of faith. The Federal government, by forcing odious and morally objectionable laws upon citizens who have functioned freely and responsibly in charitable and caring institutions, some since the very founding of our beloved country, is forcing people of good will to rise up as patriots of old against a new tyranny and injustice.
Please stand with the Bishops of the United States of America and reclaim the freedom to serve the poor, house the homeless, care for the sick, support parents and families, and educate all ages, according to the teachings of Jesus and the foundations of our faith and the support of traditional social structures.
Find out how you can get involved by logging on to www.diolc.org/freedom orwww.Fortnight4Freedom.org where you will find more information and a calendar of events. Thank you and Happy Independence Day!
Celebrate religious freedom by coming to Sunday Mass and giving thanks!