Life liberty & the pursuit of happiness, giving God what is God’s

Deacon Bob Dangel gave the homily for this Sunday, the Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time at St. Thomas Aquinas Cathedral in Reno Nevada. His homily focused on the Gospel, “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God.” Deacon Bob also used the Declaration of Independence to structure his homily.

The writer of the Declaration of Independence was Thomas Jefferson, a Deist. Thomas Jefferson wrote the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, where he coined the idea of the separation of church and state. In discussing the separation of church and state, we notice this is not a new idea. Moses had his Aaron, and King Saul lost his job as king and his life because he crossed the line between church and state. I Samuel 13:2-14.


A famed Deist who gave us our ideal of what government is about!


Deacon Bob walked us through the Declaration: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among these are life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.”

However much church and state are separate, there come times when they must cross the line separating church and state, as Deacon Bob made very clear. The whole idea that all men are created equal, with rights, comes from Genesis 1:26:

“וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים, נַעֲשֶׂה אָדָם בְּצַלְמֵנוּ כִּדְמוּתֵנוּ” “Be made Adam, in our Shalom and in our Bloods.” Our neighbor, regardless of how he thinks, or what color his is, or whether or not he talks funny, or what he does for a living, is made in the image of God. As we treat our neighbor, we treat the image of God. Therefore, “Life” as mentioned in our Declaration of Independence is a religious construct. “To secure these rights, (Life, ( a religious construct) liberty, happiness)  governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” The line between church and state crosses.

Look to the collapse of the Twin Towers, an attack upon the image of American, the President of the United States and the United States Navy. Osama Ben Laden attacked Seal Team Six, though these men were at different locations. Earlier this year, Seal Team Six got even, not for an attack upon New York, but upon an attack upon each of them.

God will respond to the way we treat him, in each other. Each of us has the right to life. This is not life at the barest levels of subsistence. This is life as the image of God. There is no room for 20% of the population bringing home 50% of the wages and controlling 85% of all wealth while 50.2 million people in this country, including 17.2 million, children do without adequate food. God commands we treat all men the way we would treat him.


Who we are and what our government is all about.

Liberty of the Declaration of Independence is liberty to become who we are. Liberty of the Declaration of Independence is liberty to become who we are, a people rescued. We know and insist upon the enforcement of the Lemon Test. This test, coming from a Supreme Court decision consists of three prongs:

The government’s action must have a secular legislative purpose;

The government’s action must not have the primary effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion;

The government’s action must not result in an “excessive government entanglement” with religion.

We recognize the right of atheist, Jews, Muslims, and others to exercise their religion, and in exchange we insist upon our right to recite our rosary in public, say our Liturgy of the Hours in public, Bless people when we feel it is appropriate and pray our “Our Father” in public.

The surprising benefits of lemon! When we subject our words and those of our neighbor to the lemon test

Catholics recite the Canticle of Zechariah in our Liturgy-of-the Hours every evening: “Blessed is Kyrie… as he promised through the mouth of his dedicated prophets of old:

Salvation/Joshua/Jesus from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us. He is mindful of his dedicated Social Contract, the promise he swore to Abraham our father,  to grant us, rescued from the hand of enemies, without fear we might give liturgy/public service to him according to Torah and the secular law of charity before him all our days.

God rescues us from our enemies to give public service to him. That includes the divine law, liturgy, and the secular law, charity to our neighbor as made in the image of Almighty God. Deacon Bob correctly pointed out that our pursuit of happiness does not come from choosing to be part of the 1% the Wall Street Protests protest against. We are people giving public service to God by serving each other.

Mick Jagger, sings, “When I’m watchin’ my T.V… that man comes on to tell me how white my shirts can be but he can’t be a man ’cause he doesn’t smoke the same cigarettes as me…” Deacon Bob related how the happiness John Locke and Thomas Jefferson had in mind comes from each person being all he can be, becoming all that we are, not the man, that man on the TV talks about. This means being Shalom People, tranquil, peaceful people, complete in who we are, becoming who God intended us to be, his servants.

That canticle of Zechariah tells us who we are as Zechariah speaks to John the Baptist:


So, just who is John the Baptist, today?

“Go before Kyrie to prepare his ways. Give knowledge of salvation/Joshua/Jesus through forgiveness of deviations. Do so because of the mercy of our Mighty Judge, visits us to shine on those sitting in darkness and death’s shadow, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”

We are people preparing the world for the days of infinite peace/the second coming. We shine on those living in darkness and the shadow of death. That is the 50.2 million food insufficient including 17.2 million children, 45,000 dying from inadequate healthcare each year, 5,000 dying in industrial related accidents, and the list goes on.

We guide them and all men into the way of peace. That is true happiness, not being like Herman Cain, and his fellow republicans, telling people who are hungry that it is all their own fault.


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