Happy Birthday America! And it is useful to pause at least once each year at that special spot on our trek around the sun (we should anyway) to reflect on where we’ve been (what we’ve learned), where we’re going (more than just another lap), where we are now (with all its joys and challenges), and what we still need to do to get where we’re going (with patience and hard work).
The promise of America is yet unfulfilled for as long as “all” does not mean “all” when we say “all … are created equal … and are endowed with certain inalienable rights.” The turmoil of these past few years (244 of them really) tells us the idea of America is bigger than any one of us, bigger than all of us together, bigger than our founding fathers, and bigger than what they were thinking when they made that ground-breaking declaration.
When we patch a hole or tear in a garment using another piece, we know that the pieces do not completely fuse together. There will always be a seam, and the hole or tear under the patch. The idea is that we want an appearance of wholeness. But we cannot fool ourselves. When the hole or tear and the patch are put under a lot of stress, they are likely going to pull apart. America is a patchwork of many beautiful cloths and tapestries. America is an amazing quilt when seen from a distance. But as with all pieces sewn together (even beautiful quilts), the weak points will always be along the seams. If this amazing quilt that is America is to stand the test of time, we will have to work at standing together and working together under all manner of stress.
Our Christian discipleship should transform the old wineskins of our former way of life into new wineskins, capable of containing the new wine of God’s awesome Spirit. Even as a nation we know we cannot solve the problems of 2020 with the solutions of 1776. The skins will burst, the wine will spill, and all will be ruined. America is a work in progress but we need to be willing to grow and meet the very real challenges of the present time. And we must recognize that we can and must forge a more perfect union with the very same ideals our founding fathers immortalized in the constitution that is our most sacred national legacy. This more perfect union cannot however be the old wineskins that were perfect for 1776. They need to be 2020 wineskins for the America of today. And every generation needs wineskins for the America of their time as well. We are both the same persons and different persons from who we were when we were born, from half a lifetime ago, from last year, from last week, from yesterday. America needs to keep growing and transforming or the new wine will burst the old wineskins, and both will be ruined.
We offered this mass for the repose of +Thomas Shields.
Rolo B Castillo © 2020