Daily Reflection
July 4th, 2003
Mike Lawler
Theology Department
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Genesis 23:1-4, 19; 24:1-8, 62-67
Psalm 106:1-2, 3-4, 4-5
Matthew 9:9-13

One day, when I was ten, I was on a mountain in Wicklow with my father, when fog came in from the Irish Sea, wet, cold, and pea-soupy.  I couldn’t see a thing, including my father, and I remember being scared, until my father’s voice came out of the fog: “Michael, follow me.”  I followed the voice, all the way down the mountain to a warm meal and a welcome bed.  That intensely personal memory illuminates for me today’s texts, which speak to me of memory, commitment, and faithfulness.

“Follow me,” Jesus invites Matthew, as he had already invited Peter and Andrew.  I do not believe for a moment that invitation was only for Peter and Andrew and Matthew.  It was also for me, for you, and for every Christian.  I first responded to the invitation, via a sponsor, on another cold day in January, 1933.  “Michael,” Monsignor O’Reilly asked me, “do you believe in God?”  “I do,” Aunt Mary replied on my behalf.  “Do you believe in Jesus Christ his only son, our Lord?”  “I do,” Aunt Mary replied again.  My memory of that baptismal day is as foggy as my vision on the mountainside, but remember it I must, and validate it, for it was on that day I was anointed for Christ and committed to follow him by patterning my life after his. 

It is not just a matter of remembering my baptism as something that happened to me in the past; it is a matter of remembering that the commitment I made at baptism continues to demand a Christ-ian life today, seventy years later.  It is not a memory that lights the corners of my mind; it is a memory that fires every corner of my life, as Abraham’s memory that God promised him he would be the father of a great nation fired his fidelity to God all those years later when his wife died.  The Psalmist also was fired by memory, not only of the great deeds God did for Israel but also of how Israel easily forgot God’s deeds and how God still remained faithful to them.  My prayer for me after reading these texts is that I would remember the commitment to Christ I have made and have annually remade, how easily I have daily forgotten that commitment, and how an unfailingly faithful God continues to issue the invitation to “Follow me.”  To follow in loving both neighbor and enemy, those who are great and those who are small, those who love me and those who don’t.  I invite you to join me in that prayer, for I need you to sustain me, as you need me to sustain you, in yet one more resolution in a long line of broken resolutions.

I could be tempted to believe it is just coincidence that we read these texts about memory,  commitment, and fidelity today, the Fourth of July, when Americans remember and recommit to the notion of one nation under God where all, powerful and powerless, rich and poor, men and women, are said to be created equal.  I could be tempted to believe it just coincidence...if I did not already believe that the God who invites us to follow cares way too much about us to leave anything to coincidence.

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