Jesus' Reassurances of Comfort and Rest
1 Dollar Bill
14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A - July 4th Weekend
We take possession of a dollar bill every now and then, but we are often stuck at noticing the number of each side of the bill. Most of the time, we fail to notice a number of symbolic implications printed on it. Today, I would like you to observe what's at the back of the dollar bill. If you look more closely, you will find the following:
1. The PYRAMID. This structure clearly stands for our country. At the base of the structure you will see the Latin numerals, which if translated to modern numerals, would read seventeen seventy-six - the year of the founding of the republic and the very day that we celebrate every Fourth of July.
But what is noteworthy about the pyramid is that it is unfinished. Something's not right, don't you think? However, this was done intentionally by the founders of this nation to represent our country as an unfinished pyramid (country) to make a statement. It asserts with conviction that America is unfinished! It is a country that's in the process of ongoing progress. The nation is yet to be completed. The task of completion, therefore, is placed upon every citizen and leaders of this country.
2. "ANNUIT COEPTIS" or "GOD HAS BLEST THE UNDERTAKING." As you look closer on top of the unfinished part of the pyramid, you will see an eye and this Latin phrase. This phrase supports the underlying symbol below (the eye) giving reference to whom the symbol is being indicated to.
3. The EYE. It symbolizes, of course, the Eye of God. The triangle enclosing it symbolizes the Blessed Trinity (One God, Three Divine Persons). The founding fathers believed that God was involved and very much part of their vision as He oversees the work overall. In the religious parlance, it also resembles and calls to mind the building of the Kingdom of God.
What the dollar bill tells us is that we are called to bring our faith to the completion of the building of America. Though there may be several "faiths" in America, what this symbol of our democracy tells us is that every person of faith is not to keep silent, but rather to contribute his or her beliefs to the free and public opinion over the issues in our political life. In short, not to be socially apathetic.
We, as Catholics, are called to use our religious freedom to the political discussion of our country. We are expected to contribute our faith convictions to all the important issues that we face each day especially in discussions about faith and morals like issues on life: abortion, euthanasia, health care, capital punishment, etc. The same Christ who sent his disciples to proclaim the good news challenges us to contribute our voices to the future of what this country will become.
4. The Great Seal of the United States. This symbol of course refers to the US as a country with all its leaders and constituents. In a very particular way that is our mission today. One may say, “What difference can I really make as an individual? In matters of political issues of our time, who cares about where I stand?”
Our choices should be something that leads us to Jesus or to God and that is the best way to exercise Christian freedom. John Paul II once exhorted, "Every generation of Americans needs to know that freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought."
Given our current situation, however, it would be hard for us to talk about freedom, independence, and peace when people are experiencing tiredness and too much anxiety. There is an on-going fatigue causing too much stress, worry, and depression among people. People are tired of what they hear on the news. People are tired of following the COVID-19 Health Guidelines: tired or wearing masks, tired of social distancing, and even tired of sanitizing! Our hands are now too clean that they sparkle like our precious silver wares at home! (Pun intended). But, should we stop now?
Jesus presents to us in the Gospel a more comforting response with these reassuring words, "Come to me all you who are weary and find life burdensome and I will refresh you. Take my yoke ... for my yoke is easy and my burden light." (Matthew 11:28-29). The refreshment and rest that Jesus promises entail humility, kindness, and compassion. Our "smallness" reminds us of our humble beginning and calls us, especially those who are in power, to uplift the lives of the oppressed. Our kindness and compassion allow us to fully understand where our brothers and sisters are in their lives. Only by these gifts and virtues can we be truly refreshed and rested. If we want to have peace within us, we will have to follow in the footsteps of our Savior who chose to be the slave and yet a friend of all.
Going back to our July 4th theme, hear this story:
Father William, the old priest, made it a practice to visit the parish school one day a week. He walked into the 4th-grade class, where the children were studying the states, and asked them how many states they could name. They came up with about 40 names. Father William jokingly told them that in his day students knew the names of all the states.
One lad raised his hand and said, 'Yes, Father, but in those days there were only 13 states.
Let us celebrate our independence with cheers and thanksgiving by calling to mind those of us who may have been deprived of their freedom, peace, and rest!