Paul W. Galetto, O.S.A.
St. Rita of Cascia High School
Ps 1:1-2, 3, 4, 6
1 Cor 15:12, 16-20
Lk 6:17, 20-26
Happy Dependence Day! That’s right, it’s Dependence day, not Independence Day. Let me explain.
There are many things competing for our attention today. Since this is the Sunday before Valentine’s Day we celebrate World Marriage Day; couples are asked to re-commit themselves to honor and to love. Secondly, ten years ago Pope John Paul II declared February 11 as World Day of the Sick because today is also the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, a feast renowned for the miracles associated with that shrine in France. Lastly, we are presented with Luke’s version of the Beatitudes which invites us to think of the world from a different perspective.
While seemingly quite disparate, there is a common thread that ties all these together. At the root of all three is the basic assumption that we need one another; we cannot journey alone through life. While our Christian calling is to community, our society calls us to value individualism; our spiritual life and our worldly life are at loggerheads.
This conflict of values reminds me of young adults who graduate from college. They can’t wait for graduation – no more tests, no more studying – their time is their own. It is independence at its fullest. Shortly after graduation (when all the parties are over and the good-byes and well-wishes are memories) life hits home. The first dose of reality usually comesin the mail. The cell phone bill, the electric bill, the college loan bill, the housing bill and on and on all arrive. You can’t take the laundry home anymore. The money for all those snacks (and beer) that you love now comes out of your own pocket. All of a sudden independence doesn’t look so great any more. It was nice when mom and dad footed the bill for the carefree life. One of the first things a college graduate learns (the hard way, mind you) is that dependence is so much better than inependence. This lesson that is true about our day to day life is also true of our spiritual life.
The grace of World Marriage Day is that there is something so special and real about the commitment one makes to another. It is the realization that we need one another, we can’t go it alone. Love not only means sacrifice and joy and happiness; it also means that we can’t live our lives without another. Love implies another. When we celebrate World Marriage Day, we celebrate that there is someone upon whom we are dependent. It is Dependence Day.
The World Day of the Sick also helps us realize that we need one another. There are few worse feelings than being sick and alone at the same time. Sometimes, like failure and sin, sickness comes our way to help us realize we can’t do everything by ourselves. Without the love of others, without God’s grace we are nothing. This World Day of the Sick is our call to reach out to others, to those whom we know are sick and suffering. We are called to compassion, concern and caring for those who need us. This day is given to us to remind us of our obligation to the Corporal Works of Mercy.
The Gospel reminds us that we are blessed when we have others to care for and others who care for us – Woe to us when we choose the path of selfishness. There is a “Cliff’s Notes” version of today’s Gospel. If you need others and can help others, you are blessed; if you want to go it alone in the world, the way of woe awaits you.
Happy Dependence Day!