Monday, November 11, 2019

Honor - On the 100th Anniversary of Armistice/Veterans' Day

On November 11th, 1919, one hundred years ago today, men and women throughout the world observed Armistice Day—that is, the first anniversary of the end of the Great War. The memory of that War, which we now call The First World War, was fresh in their memories. Indeed, many were still rebuilding their lives. And by lives, we do not simply mean houses (although they were rebuilding those, too). Many of their loved ones, family and friends, had died. And many of the men and women, who lived and who had returned, had changed.

Each year, all of them—dead and living—would be remembered and thanked and honored—and, eventually, this day became Veterans Day, the day we observe today. Unlike Memorial Day which, in May, honors the men and women who have died in the service of our nation, Veterans Day honors all who have served—both the dead and the living.

On this day, we so often hear the word “Honor.” This is a very good word which we do not often hear in our society these days. What does it mean?

Honor means “to acknowledge the sacrifice.”

You know this word from the Command: “Honor your father and mother.” What does it mean to honor them? It means to acknowledge the sacrifices they have made. I tell the children that, at the very least, we owe our parents a lot for having changed our diapers when we were little—and staying up with us when we were sick—and providing us food and shelter—and so on.

Or, married couples: you promised that you would love and honor each other all the days of your life—that you would acknowledge that the person next to you sacrificed their life-- all of the other possibilities, all of the other possible spouses, all of the other possible places to live and jobs to have—they sacrificed to be with you.

And acknowledging their sacrifice can take different forms, the principle one which we see today is gratitude… And that’s a good thing. We need to say thank you to our parents, to our spouse, and to our veterans.

But, I think, the best way we can honor someone, the best way we can acknowledge their sacrifice, can be summed up in this way: when a soldier comes home from war and sees the people of this land—when that soldier sees you and how you live—will that soldier say “My sacrifice was worth it”?

Live in such a way that the returning Veteran will say “It was worth it.”

In a word, live honorably. The best way to acknowledge another’s sacrifice is for yourself to sacrifice. Honorable people are not selfish people. They are sacrificial people.

Christians, for their part, look at Jesus and see the ultimate sacrifice. This is why we thank Him in Eucharistia; this is why we genuflect when we enter His presence in church; … but it is also why we strive to become like Him.

For true honor acknowledges the sacrifice and, in turn, strives to be honorable—sacrificial-- and thus worthy of the sacrifice.

May it be so, brothers and sisters!

To our veterans, we thank you in a special way, today. We pray, especially, that our men and women who are struggling in any way may receive generous support from our parish, our Church, and our nation. Our veterans should be the first for whom we care. Finally, we pray that our lives may be honorable, so that you, honorable veterans, may look on us and on this land and say about it all: “It was worth it.”

And if it is not or we are not, please pray for us. Someday, it will be. For now, know that our Savior, Jesus Christ, looks on you and says: “You are worth it.”

May you be blessed this day and always.

+ In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.