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Women and men in blue, God loves you

By Bishop Terry R. LaValley

October 2, 2019

Editor’s note: The following is Bishop Terry R. LaValley’s homily from the Blue Mass, a Mass honoring and praying for area law enforcement. The Mass was held Sept. 29. Full coverage will be in next week’s edition.

Why a Blue Mass? The blue refers to the blue-colored uniforms often worn by those engaged in law enforcement, firefighting, corrections, and public safety. Back in September 1934, the first Blue Mass was celebrated at St. Patrick’s Church in Washington, D.C.

Women and Men in Blue: We need you. We sin. We are weak. Many among us suffer mental, emotional, physical disabilities: the young and not-so-young. We need your help. Others have no respect for the human person, some even seek to hurt us and inflict evil on our neighbors for a host of reasons. We need your protection. Nature lashes storms at us wreaking havoc with our lives and property. We need your assistance. Often, we simply don’t have the wherewithal to help ourselves or our neighbor. Yes, in these and in so many other circumstances of life, we need you!

Women and Men in Blue: What can we do? At times today, it seems that you are confronted and harassed in many places in our nation. Sometimes we feel helpless to respond to the unjust verbal missiles hurled in your direction. At this Mass we praise God for your service, your sacrifice, your dedication as you tend to the common good. This is our way of saying, “Thank you.” We thank you and your families for your sacrifice. We know that we don’t express our gratitude to you enough. Too often, we take your presence among us for granted. Don’t lose patience with us. Following God’s law and civil law isn’t always easy or automatic in our fallen world. Sometimes, being just plain decent and respectful seems out of our reach.

Women and Men in Blue, God loves you! In our second reading today, we hear of Michael, that great warrior against evil who is numbered among the archangels. St. Michael is your patron saint and protector. In your service to us, God looks over you as you make us feel safe and secure. This Mass is our opportunity to recognize you who “protect and serve” us and all who visit our beloved North Country. This is a celebration of our faith, a faith that is tested, to be sure. But, when all is said and done, ours is a faith that believes goodness triumphs over hatred, evil and violence. Goodness wins over what seems at times to be an overwhelming lack of reverence for human life and disregard for property. Duty, respect and honor are the virtues that energize and motivate your days, yes, even in the most dangerous of situations.

Women and Men in Blue, God loves you! We are gathered here as a people of faith to look to Jesus and His Gospel for God’s truth and for hope. We are so aware of life’s evils, sufferings, even death. We commend to God’s love and boundless mercy your co-workers who have died in the line of duty as well as all your departed loved ones.

You remember the conversation that our Savior had with the criminal, Dismas, as they were hanging from their crosses, side by side. When sinfulness is confessed and forgiveness sought, the crucified One, promises salvation. Therein lies the hope that draws us together and beckons us to be instruments of God’s peace and joy as we follow Him on this journey of life, with all its challenges, joys and sorrows.

Women and men in blue, you know that each of our vocations is to serve others, as did the Lord Himself. Your service calls for courage, patience, humility, and self-sacrifice. You have the eyes to see and the heart to embrace the dignity of every human person whom you encounter: friend and stranger. Our law enforcement officers, corrections officers, first responders and firefighters offer selfless service for our protection, care for those injured, instilling hope to those among us who feel abandoned, unwanted.

With grateful hearts, we salute you and honor your loved ones who make great sacrifices in order to provide you with the opportunity to serve us so devotedly and courageously. Yes, service is the heart of what you do. Service is not just a nice word for you, but truly a charge, a guiding motivation every time you suit up in blue. I offer you our encouragement, our gratitude as I ask God’s special blessing on your efforts on our behalf.

We don’t always appreciate your sacrifice, the great personal price you pay, and the tremendous responsibility placed before you each and every day in providing public safety. May God keep you safe, you who protect and serve us so faithfully.

I also want to ask a special blessing upon your families today because it’s your spouses, children, and parents who daily pray for your safety while you are at work, and who love and support you at the end of the day when your duty is done (whatever time that may be).

Finally, again let us remember all those who have fallen in the line of duty, who never failed in their generous service, even when it meant the giving of their very lives. We think, too, of the many who continue to suffer life-long effects of injuries sustained or diseases contracted while responding to life-threatening emergencies.
You have our trust, our continuing gratitude, and our promise of prayers. Thank you.

May God be praised…forever may God be praised!

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