Click to hear Audio Homily
This weekend we are celebrating Independence Day, the date on which United States formally separated from Great Britain with the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. A Briton who is working now in America said that he is a bit envious about our holiday, "While Americans toast their freedom from tyranny every summer, Britons get a royal wedding maybe every other decade, if we're lucky...And as millions of Americans do, I'll join friends and neighbors for a cookout and to watch the fireworks."
There is a time in our own lives when struggle for independence happens right inside our home. Someone said, “Mother Nature is providential. She gives us twelve years to develop a love for our children before turning them into teenagers.” The teenage years are when the children move away from dependence on their parents--moving away from their rules, advice, and influence. For the teenager, it is an exhilarating time as well as a confusing one. For the parents, it's time of a great suffering because their child no longer listens to them. As one mom commented, "I don't know my daughter any more. Where did that sweet, gentle, and obedient girl of mine go? We didn't raise her that way!" The teenager doesn't want her parents' involvement in her life but still needs their financial backing. That explains the bumper sticker which says: MONEY ISN'T EVERYTHING, BUT SURE KEEPS THE KIDS IN TOUCH.
Which mom and dad would just abandon the child to darkness of error or wrongdoing? Yet, the teenage child does not see it that way. The child sees the parent's correction as their attempt to control her life. What a heart breaking experience it is for the parents to hear from their child that they don't care about her being happy. How should parents respond? In those times, parents have to reiterate their love all the while standing firm with setting rules and boundaries for the sake of the safety and true happiness of their child. The parents risk being misunderstood and even be hated by their own child.
We can begin to understand today's scripture readings through the lens of the struggle for independence between a teenager and the parents. In the First Reading from the Book of Ezekiel, God sends a prophet to his people to set them back on the right path. However, people reject him because the message is unpalatable. Likewise in the Gospel, Jesus and his message are rejected.
When God sends His messengers and messages to us, His intention is out of love. He says through Prophet Jeremiah, "For I know well the plans I have in mind for you--plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope." (Jer 29:11) God reveals His great compassion and mercy when He sends His Son Jesus. Jesus dearly wants to help us, but He is unable to do so because of our lack of trust and faith. He can't help us if we remain disobedient and obstinate.
Heavenly Father gave us free will so that we can choose to know Him, love Him and trust Him over the course of our earthly life. Sometimes society enacts rules that makes our choice to love and follow God appear insensitive and unloving to others. He provides all the necessary grace for us to live a life of freedom, peace, and true happiness. But we cannot have the fruits of this grace until we have the desire, the will, and determination to trust and follow God. As written in the Book of Proverbs:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
One dad wrote a song that reveals the hopes and dreams for his daughter as he struggles to let her grow to be an adult. I can only imagine that this hope is the reflection of Heavenly Father’s hope for all of us.
“Find Your Wings” by Mark Harris
It's only for a moment you are mine to hold
The plans that heaven has for you
Will all too soon unfold
So many different prayers I'll pray
For all that you might do
But most of all I'll want to know
You're walking in the truth
And if I never told you, I want you to know
As I watch you grow
May passion be the wind
That leads you through your days
And may conviction keep you strong
Guide you on your way
I pray that God would fill your heart with dreams
And that faith gives you the courage
To dare to do great things
I'm here for you whatever this life brings
So let my love give you roots
And help you find your wings
-Fr. Paul Yi