Bishop celebrates July 4th Mass on Religious Freedom
Bishop David Zubik pointed to the words of Jesus, who just like presidents who deliver inaugural addresses, delivered his own inaugural address just after the Beatitudes.
“You are the salt of the earth,” the bishop said. “You are the light of the world.”
At this moment our in history, he noted, we must take seriously and cherish what it means to be salt and light.
Bishop Zubik delivered an impassioned address on the issue of religious liberty during the closing Mass of the “Fortnight For Freedom” observance July 4 at St. Mary of Mercy Church in Downtown Pittsburgh. Several hundred people filled the lower level of the church for the liturgy.
Bishop Zubik pointed out that during the time of Christ, the lack of refrigeration necessitated that salt be used as a preservative. As salt of the earth, he said, we must preserve the freedom given to us by God, a freedom that is also guaranteed to us by the Constitution.
“It guarantees a freedom that nobody could ever take away from us,” he said.
In referencing the call to be a light to the world, the bishop noted that there are many people who live in darkness — of unemployment, oppression, lacking the necessities of life and of ignorance.
He told the congregation that when they go out the doors of the church or their homes they must be a light of the world that reflects God’s presence within us. To be a light, he said, means to extend our hands to people in trouble and our hearts to those who are in need. We must use the freedom God gave us to live out the Beatitudes.
Bishop Zubik pointed out, however, that there are many opponents to the Catholic faith, people who make fun of the church because it raises the name of God. They are people, he noted, who claim that the church does not care about the sick, the uninsured or the poor.
“We need to be able to prove them wrong by the ways in which we want to be the salt of the earth, preserving our freedom, and the light of the world by living it, following in the footsteps of Jesus himself,” he said.
The bishop pointed out that we must view the freedom given to us by Jesus as not just one item, but as part of a big picture. We must be faithful to everything God has given us, beginning with the gift of light.
As an example of being salt and light, Bishop Zubik noted that since its founding in 1843, the Diocese of Pittsburgh has made the care of people who are in need of health care one of its top concerns.
“The miracle on Ninth Street is a perfect example of that,” he said in reference to the Catholic Charities Free Health Care Clinic in Downtown Pittsburgh.
The remark drew a round of applause from the congregation.
The bishop also pointed to importance of preserving religious liberty and freedom for the sake of the Catholic elementary, high school and universities of the diocese so that they can continue to exist and pass on the Good News of Jesus so that it can be preserved and lived.
Bishop Zubik noted, however, that when we meet people who try to discredit the church we must “in no way shape or form ever respond to another politically, philosophically, or especially uncharitably.”
We must only respond, he said, as we are — as sisters and brothers of Jesus, and sons and daughters of the Father.
The bishop pointed out that the activity that took place during the two-week “Fortnight For Freedom” observance — the prayer, fasting and good works — cannot stop because it reflects Jesus’ charge for us to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. In doing so, he noted, we can use the freedom given to us by God and guaranteed by those who signed the Constitution to help serve those who are in need and fulfill the challenge that Jesus has given us.
“God bless you all, God bless us all in the church and God bless our country,” he said, as the congregation once again erupted in applause.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has urged faithful to keep up their prayers and action for religious freedom. Those interested in receiving text messages to stay up-to-date on current religious freedom issues should text the word “FREEDOM” to 377377.