Growing up, I grew up in a very strict European household.
Actually, it was a very strict Sicilian household.
And for those of you who know strict Sicilians. It’s strict.
And there was one virtue that was instilled in us more than any other, and that is the virtue of loyalty.
Above all else, we are to be loyal.
Anybody who criticized someone who is a family member, a friend or relative, whatever could be.
That to us. But we could say anything we wanted that was different.
So our readings today are really all about loyalty.
But one more thing. It’s about belonging.
But we have a bit of a dilemma in the readings.
It’s loyalty and belonging, but there is a hook.
So, for example, we’re about to celebrate the 4th of July.
So there will be fireworks and thunderstorms.
There’ll be barbecues and rain.
There’s going to be quiet and there’s going to be a lot of noise.
It goes hand in hand. But there’s something else about the 4th of July.
It calls us to loyalty and it calls us to remember belonging.
We belong to a community that is a civic community with civil responsibilities.
And sometimes they’re easy and sometimes they’re hard.
But we are all called to loyalty and belonging.
That is exactly the experience of the Prophet in the first reading.
Now, gentlemen, if a stranger arrived at your door and your wife said, We’re adding on a room to take care of him, what would be your first reaction?
Ah, but what does the wife of the Shulamit do?
He agrees. He agrees to let this complete stranger belong to his household.
There’s a certain loyalty to his wife that he has, and because of that, they are both going to be rewarded and the reward is going to be a child.
Belonging and loyalty. Now, that’s true of us in baptism.
Each and every one of us is baptized into a community of faith and given the new life of grace.
It’s belonging. Community and loyalty.
Loyalty to one another. To the community, and most of all, to Christ Jesus the Lord.
So in this day and age, belonging and loyalty can be very difficult.
But we are also given one other sacrament that allows us to be long and be loyal.
It is the Eucharist.
Why we’re here this morning, how it is that we gain that daily strength to be loyal members of faith to one another and to the church.
And in for the past two years, as we enter into our third year, we’ve been celebrating the Eucharistic revival with the bishops of the United States,
have asked us to deepen that encounter with Christ and our relationship.
Once we deepened the encounter and the relationship with the Lord, then we can do that for one another.
It calls us to be responsible, privileged members.
We are privileged because we get to come here on Sunday freely in the United States.
We’re privileged because the Lord calls each and every one of us.
We are privileged to be together. And we are responsible.
We are responsible to be that welcoming face of Christ Jesus to everyone we meet.
We are called to really be the first Bible that people encounter.
Evangelism for Christ Jesus.
And it’s all a matter of loyalty. And belonging.
So. As we go to the table of the Lord now to be deepened in our faith, let us consider.
Palermo, 1951. A family.
Learning of value, loyalty.
Let us consider what happens to any little child who forgets.
As Saint Paul reminds us. We are baptized into the passion, the death and the resurrection of the Lord.
We are baptized into loyalty and privilege, to responsibility and faith, to the good and to the suffering.
And let us consider how it is that we live our daily lives in Christ Jesus strengthened through baptism, strengthened through the Eucharist, always called to follow that same Christ Jesus yesterday, today and forever.