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Veterans Day Reflection

November 21, 2013

Monday, November 11, 2013, Thirty-second Week in Ordinary Time: Veterans Day

Wisdom 1:1-7. Wisdom is a kindly spirit, the Spirit of the Lord fills the world.
Luke 17:1-6. If your brother wrongs you seven times in one day, and returns to you seven times saying, “I am sorry,” you should forgive him.

Gospel Reflection:

Praise be to Jesus Christ! For evermore!

Today is Veterans Day. November 11 was originally set as a holiday to honor Armistice Day – the end of the Great War, the end of World War I, which officially took place on November 11, 1918, in the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month; something that would stand out from the ‘War to end all wars’, and remind people that the cost of war runs high. Very high.

Twenty years later, in 1938, November 11th was finally “dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be hereafter celebrated and known as Armistice Day.” As such, this new legal holiday honored World War I veterans.

That world peace lasted one year.

In 1954, after having been through both World War II and the Korean War, the 83rd Congress, at the urging of the veterans service organizations, amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word Armistice and inserting the word Veterans. With the approval, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all wars. So I say today, as a fellow veteran, thank you for all your honor and service to your Nation.

So today, we remember our veterans. This is especially remarkable this year. This year, the Department of Defense shut down all unnecessary operations and personnel due to budget sequestration – a feat likely to repeat in January. Care from the Veterans Administration (VA) was suspended. This year, during the furlough, a contracted Catholic priest (designated a non-essential personnel) was reportedly threatened with arrest and punishment if he tried to violate said furlough restrictions and pray the Holy Mass for our sailors in Kings Bay, Georgia. This year has seen Catholic Chaplains resign their commissions and leave military service by the bushel after someone way up in high ranking echelons censured the message they were instructed by their Archbishop – a very good servant Archbishop Timothy Broglio – who in turn was instructed by the governing body of bishops in America – the United Stated Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) – to be read at Mass on the same Sunday in every parish in the country. It would seem that the cause of world peace – emphasized today indeed is challenging almost 100 years later. It was fortuitous that the second collection Sunday was for supporting the good works that Archbishop Broglio is doing in the Archdiocese of the Military Services.

As we look to Scripture for guidance in these times, Jesus asks us to be on our guard for one’s sin becoming overwhelming. Not only should we take heed of others who sin so that you do not give scandal, but more importantly to look after ourselves so that we forgive sin and scandal. We must look to ourselves so we do not lead another into sin and death.

One of my favorite theologians, Father Carroll Stuhlmueller, wrote that these parables warn “that they (the Apostles) can never stop and rest in the belief that they have worked enough.” This kind of rings true with those in military service today – as well as those of us who served before. One must always be vigilant. One must always stand tall for peace. One must always cultivate faith, for it is a remarkable thing. As long as we have one iota of faith, even as small as a mustard seed, we can do mighty things. Armed with that faith, we can be called on by God to do remarkable things, we can encounter God in our lives and move on his will for us!

So today, be sure to thank a veteran. Be sure – as my friend Evangelist Richard Lane said last week at our mission – be sure to leave all you encounter with a sincere – and peace promoting, “God Bless You.”

God bless you,

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