By Trevor Thompson
Director of Pastoral Ministries
Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
We live in a country of contradictions. America says all “men” are created free and equal, but that dictum was penned by a slave holder. America is a republic founded on capitalism but strives to be a democracy, governed “by the people,” and not a plutocracy, ruled by the wealthy. America is at once churchgoing and also a secular nation with an affinity for materialism. America likes to imagine itself exceptionally innocent yet assumes the guilty role in so many moments in the empire’s short history. America likes to imagine it broke away from the prejudices and violence of the Old World; yet it holds fast to the myth of the effectiveness of violence and revenge. We lift up the rugged individualist yet cherish community; we long for a sense of tradition and conservation yet espouse progress with little concern for implications to the soil, air, and water. Yes, the American experiment is full of contradictions. This is what makes our country fascinating, inspiring, and frustrating.
As we celebrate our country’s founding, we would do well to sit with these contradictions in light of our faith. If we take seriously our baptisms and the Christian tradition, we are not first and foremost Americans, but Christians. Through baptism, we are citizens of the body of Christ, new creations, dying to the old self and its identity and rising to a new self and identity in Christ. Not that we can’t or shouldn’t be American citizens in good standing but our primary trust, allegiance even, should be in God’s love, following in the footsteps of Jesus. The phrase is apt, “In God we trust.”
We hear this message of total trust in God’s love in today’s lectionary readings: the meek king with trust in Yahweh’s care riding into the royal city proclaiming peace to the ends of the earth, a total challenge to the city’s trust in their military power of chariot, horse, and bow; Paul calling the Christians in Rome to trust their calling as Christian brothers and sisters to live a life according to the spirit instead of trusting in the flesh; and Jesus encouraging the “little ones” to trust enough to bring their burdens and labors to him, rather than their own self-sufficiency, wisdom, and wealth.
Trusting in God is no easy task. Frankly, it’s easier to put our trust in other less salutary things. But this is why we come so frequently to this community of faith and get involved in ministry—because we believe that in the midst of the burdens, labors, and contradictions of living in America, it is easier (and more fun) to trust in God in community than to try to do it alone.
Interested in getting more involved in the parish, call me at 847-8205×270