WASHINGTON - Ahead of Memorial Day in the United States, the Archbishop of Military Services commended fallen soldiers and emphasized sacrificial love.
“Certainly those we honor today served the Nation and put their lives in peril without knowing everyone they were serving: whether they were good or bad. They simply served all,” Archbishop Timothy Broglio said during a homily at a Mass said May 19 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C.
“Does not authentic service to the Nation also express fidelity to the commandment of love? It is recognition of that service that beckons us this afternoon.”
The 25th Annual Memorial Mass was attended by active military members, veterans, and their families.
“The sacrifice of the military also pushes us forward in the quest for a lasting peace. It is impossible to look at the faces of young men and women committed to bearing arms in service of the Nation and not shudder at the tragedy of losing even one young life.”
Archbishop Broglio said the powerful message of love in the Gospel is rooted in the death and resurrection of Christ. This concrete action of love drew the disciples together and pushed them to evangelize the whole world.
“The supreme moment of glorification is the passion, death, and Resurrection of the Lord, considered as the hour in St. John’s Gospel. Not exactly what we consider when we think of glory. Jesus recognizes this moment as the highlight and purpose of His mission,” he said.
“The love of the Risen One pushed the apostolic community out of its comfort zone into new horizons,” he further added.
It is the obligation of Catholics to emulate this love and self-gift, he said, noting that acts of charity make Christ present to the giver. This strength, he said, must come from the sacraments, especially Holy Communion.
The archbishop further added that love is not a gift to be withheld from certain people but it is for everyone. He pointed to the example of Christ, who washed Judas’ feet even with the knowledge of the discple’s betrayal.
“That powerful example is useful in our world where people are so often categorized and dismissed. Christians cannot faithfully behave that way. We cannot simply follow the world, divide people into camps, and choose which ones merit our love and which not. Fidelity to the precept of charity prevents us from determining its meaning,” he said.
Broglio said members of the military live this example by their willingness to sacrifice and authentic service for the good of the nation.
“They exhibit an understanding of the divine commandment, so fundamental and emblematic of the Christian community for all times and in all places,” he said.
He encouraged his listeners “to foster dialogue and understanding between people.
Broglio also encouraged those assisting at Mass to pray for the men and women who have died during or after military service. He drew special attention to the military chaplains, veterans, and those suffering from spiritual and physical battle wounds.
“You know that this annual celebration is an occasion to pray especially for the eternal repose of those who have fallen either on the battlefield or years later,” he said.
“We beg divine mercy upon all of them and we ask for the stamina to imitate their love.”