The Church has no agenda regarding national holidays or emblems yet the scriptural testimony invites us to reflect on the challenges that continue to stem from those who signed the Declaration of Independence from England. We mark July 4 as the beginning of the process that moved thirteen colonies [each with their agenda] to compromise and set a course that resulted in the United States of America. Yet circumstances and issues having their origin in the past do make it difficult for many to enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Can the celebration of our identity born out of thirteen unique colonies include any sober reflection? We acknowledge both progress and regress, advances achieved with compromises that defied our ideals, war to end slavery, a violent backlash to reimpose it with terror, benchmarks for equality followed by the resurgence of nativism and the politics of social division.
Without the truth, we will remain paralyzed. Without mutual forgiveness, our diverse and divided society will be unable to walk.
We have this tradition of applying scripture verses to issues and concerns that are vibrant in our culture and society . . . like looking for magical formulae in the scriptures for everything from ingrown toe nails to the current pandemic, forgetting that the contemporary world of our making is not Matthew’s world. Consider, then, that Matthew’s testimony of the miraculous feeding of the multitude is not a discourse on world hunger. Nor is this testimony a call for more earnest sensitivity to the needs of others.
Matthew’s people (14:13-21) testified to that which they have come to understand and believe about Jesus and what Jesus says and does. It’s all about Jesus, period. And yet it’s also fair to note that what Jesus says and does, He chooses to say to disciples like us and to do through us. He asks, “What do you have?” Perhaps that move is the most miraculous aspect of these verses full of miracles.