July 4, 2011 - Monday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Today's Readings

Today is Independence Day in America, and we Americans love our independence. It is such an American expression to say: “Everything I have, I’ve earned. Nobody’s ever given me anything.” This is, of course, complete nonsense. We have only to think of the many ways that our ancestors have prepared the place where we now stand: those who came to this country, those who cleared the forest that used to be here, those who built this town, our parents who gave us life, and all the teachers who educated us.

But now we are independent adults, so long as someone else grows our food and brings it to the store and makes our clothes and produces every other item that we could not get through life without. Day-to-day we get the idea somehow that we are getting by on our own efforts, but if we stop and think of how dependent we are it may surprise us. Consider what happens when the electricity goes out. What if it went out forever? Would we survive?

I do not favor jokes in homilies, and I especially dislike jokes where God is one of the characters, but there is a joke that is apropos here, an old one many of you have already heard, I am sure. Some scientists announced one day that they had discovered all the secrets of the universe, so they told God, “We don’t need you anymore.” God suggested that they have a contest, to see who could make the best animal. He said, “I made you out of dirt. Could you do that?” The scientist said, “Okay! We can even improve on your design.” So the scientists went outside and scooped up a bucket of dirt to bring to their laboratory, but God told them, “Stop! What are you doing? Get your own dirt.” Even if we could go to the jungles of the Amazon and live completely independently of all humanity, as some people do, we still would be dependent on the one who made the jungle and who made us.

Today is a wonderful day to remember our dependence on God and others. In our readings today, we see the three basic ways that we depend on God: from Jacob who depended on God to provide for him, to the woman who needed healing, to the girl who was raised from the dead. We depend on God for the necessities of life, for health, and for life itself. We enjoy these gifts from God every day, we should not wait until one of them is taken away to be thankful.