By Father Marvin Navas, C.M.
“Come to me, all of you who labor and are burdened and I will give you rest.” (Mt. 11:28)
Many have felt this rest Jesus offers. Those who have been in war, poverty, violence, in places where life has no meaning or value – our Lord gets to the heart of these problems to bring us peace. We have felt the promise of salvation again and again. He enters the places of oppression to make known the glory of God. He has come for everyone to have eternal life, and He is the way, the truth, and the life.
In many instances those with the most humble hearts are the ones that see God’s wonders. Those that the world says do not know anything know that God is with them, that God loves them, that God is walking with them. The cross – the burdens- will always be there, but with the help of God the journey is calmer and easier because of the strength that comes from above.
This power from above was felt by the first immigrants to this nation. At the upcoming Independence Day celebrations, the nation will be celebrating the fulfillment of a dream. This country was born out of the dream to be a free people. It was born out of a revolution by a people who wanted change. In the narratives of the first immigrants we read the desire to seek something new: justice, religious freedom, peace and respect. They carried this desire to the many places they went. But as often happens, along the journey they forgot some of their principles, goals and ideals.
Revolutions are times of sorrow and pain – but they are also times of change. They are moments that open opportunities to something new. That desire for change that started in France and spread throughout the world became a reality here, and from here it spread throughout the Americas.
A revolution is something we don’t desire, but they happen anyway and sometimes give birth to new nations: to free people, people who seek their own autonomy and people who want to be protagonists of their own destinies.
May God bless this great nation that has been a refuge for so many immigrants, people who sought and are still seeking dignity, freedom, justice, peace and a way to live out their faiths. May God bless the new immigrants that also come loaded with grief and pain, but even more, hoping to be productive. They carry with them their hope for a better world, one of peace and prosperity.
We come with a living faith and the joy of knowing that God loves us and cares for us. We are willing to bear the cross of Jesus, who is our rock of salvation and our refuge. Let us keep living our Christian values because they will be the pride of this nation.
Father Marvin Navas is a Vincentian priest and part of the archdiocesan Hispanic Evangelization team. He serves at Our Lady of Hope, Holy Innocents, St. Helen, St. Thomas Aquinas and Annunciation parishes in Philadelphia.