14 Sunday A – July 3, 2011 – Revolutionaries for Liberty
Zec 9:9,9-10, Ps 145:1-2,8-11,13-14, Rom 8:9,11-13, Mt 11:25-30
Ahmed Maher, cofounder of the April Sixth Youth Movement in Egypt, was one of the organizers of the January 25th Revolution that took place in Tahrir Square in Cairo. A few weeks ago, while traveling in the Middle East, I was at a meeting with Ahmed. He described the collaboration between the April 6th Youth Movement, labor unions, journalists and Parliament leading up to the Revolution. Ahmed said the Revolution was successful because, after years of suffering under Hosni Mubarek, who ignored citizens, everyone’s demands were unified.
King George III ignored the demands of our original colonies. On July 2nd in 1776 in Philadelphia, PA, the Continental Congress voted to “dissolve the connection with Great Britain.”  Two days later the Declaration of Independence, explaining the reasons for the separation, was delivered to Washington. John Adams wrote, “We are in the very midst of a revolution, the most remarkable … in the history of nations.” 
As I have in the past, I recommend we all reread and discuss with others the Declaration of Independence during this holiday weekend.
My yoke is easy, my burden is light. These are the words attributed to Jesus in today’s gospel. Throughout his life this revolutionary Jew was slowly changing the way people thought about their lives. Scholar John Pilch writes that Jesus was presenting an alternative to Jewish peasants whose lives were governed by land owners, Roman legislation and the 613 commandments (see the books of Genesis and Deuteronomy) enforced by the Pharisees. Jesus served as a mediator between humanity and God who would ultimately free them from all oppression in life. 
What are the burdens, the yokes, in our lives? While many people in America are struggling to make ends meet others are thankful for their blessings. We take for granted that we can travel, assemble and speak freely; that we can practice a religion, get an education, start a business and consume goods that are available to most of us.
Nevertheless, it is embarrassing that we Americans use and waste so much of the world’s resources like oil and water; that we have so many unemployed, hungry and homeless people, that we spend so much money on the military industry, that not all of us are treated equally because of class, gender, lifestyle, race or religion. There is so much to be concerned about in America we cannot afford to be complacent. I wrestle with this question all the time: Where does our Church fit in?
Two weeks ago, on Trinity Sunday, we considered the Triune God as an indelible song made up of individual but distinct notes mysteriously combined to strike a memorable, inescapable chord in our lives. Last week we pondered how we might reinvent ourselves, the Church, as the body and blood of Christ, to be more present to one another. Now this week, you and I are challenged to live by the Spirit, to put to death the imperfect deeds of the world, to take the yoke off the shoulders of those who are burdened in any way we can. United by our faith and gratitude to God, none of us can do this alone.
The first scripture reading today included the promise that wars would be banished and nations would be at peace. Throughout history people have acted to bring this vision into reality. Whether in ancient civilizations, the time of Jesus, in 1776 in this land, in Egypt, Tunisia and elsewhere today, all revolutions depend on people working together, taking risks for liberty and justice.
As members of this Church we continue to be mindful of our responsibilities to lighten the load for each other. Can we dare to find radical ways to bring about, what we call the kin-dom of God, a land of opportunity and liberty for all?
1 This document, “A Declaration by the Representatives of the United States of America in General Congress assembled,” was written by Richard Henry Lee
2 McCullough, David. 1776. (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2005) 135-6
3 Pilch, John. The Cultural World of Jesus, Sunday by Sunday, Cycle A (Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 1995) 106-108