At 5:30 on the morning after the election I got up to look at my computer screen. I had two things in mind. I wanted to see the election results from the previous night that I couldn’t stay up for, and I wanted to see the readings for the day’s Mass. I quickly scanned the election results; the three states that voted to re-define marriage to include same-sex partners, the legalization in Colorado for “recreational use” of marijuana . . . the tenor of America seems to be radically shifting in a formal way. I felt discouraged. I then read the gospel from St. Luke chapter 14:
“If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple.”
I was stunned by the clarity of Christ’s call. It was God’s providence to hear this Word as a stark reminder of what it means to be a Christian- a sobering and empowering Word that immediately put into perspective my day’s work.
The results of the elections do not change the mission of Christ or the mission of His Church. The Letter to the Hebrews proclaims: “Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Heb. 13). His life became our life at baptism. We must be reminded of our basic identity, the identity that we received when water was poured over our head and the priest or deacon announced: “I baptize you in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” At that moment we were given an eternal destiny. In the words of the First Letter of St. Peter referring to baptism: “we were made living stones, with Christ Jesus as the Cornerstone.” We became children of God. We are Americans for sure and we are proud of that fact. We have every right to be. America has stood as a beacon of hope for over two centuries- a place where ideals can be fought for and lived. Great statesmen have articulated a philosophy of government that laid the groundwork of a balancing of powers that has never been rivaled in human history. The freedom that we enjoy, the industries by which we profit, the arts through which we can express the human spirit- all these are been part of our great American heritage. America is great. And now, we have a moment in history to continue to carry those ideals of freedom ahead, each day.
We must not minimize the present dangers and threats to religious liberty. The policies of the present administration regarding the HHS mandate are indeed a travesty. They impinge on not only Catholics, but people of all religious affiliation, because they over-reach; they seek to re-define the moral values that can be fought for in the public square. Without our religious liberty we cannot fully be human. The most important dimension of our humanity is our conscience, that sacred place where we hear God’s voice and we detect the natural law. And once we know and perceive the natural law then we are free to follow it and advance it or we lose our way… we lose our purpose and direction and we have no orientation to move into the light. Religious liberty is a battle worth everything. We must not be deterred, distracted or derailed.
We must continue to stand for the sacredness of every life. There is no more basic truth. We must continue to respectfully and with charity announce the true nature and dignity of marriage as a union of one man and one woman. On these premises the western world has been built and they are not arbitrary.
In these days ahead let us have the hope that comes from the Gospel. Remember that hope is a supernatural virtue. It is different than being optimistic. Hope is not simply a bright feeling associated with trying to see the silver lining, although that’s not a bad thing either. No, hope is that infused power of God’s grace that fuels our innermost soul to know the truth, that with Christ we can make it all the way to heaven. This world is passing away. The hands of time are ticking, giving way to an eternity that is governed by God’s love and justice. In that new world to come, all will be well, all will be just, all will be in harmony with Him. Our main job remains being vigilant in our soul for His arrival.
In the meantime, let us work with diligence, knowing that “He has overcome the world.” The best way you and I can be good Americans is to be good Catholics, good followers of Jesus Christ the King. This is a time of witness and of sacrifice and hope. God is with us in every battle for good, so we must be brave in spirit and generous of heart.
Please, let us keep our President and all elected officials in our daily prayers. Let us offer sacrifices of a good life for renewal, repentance, and new life in our nation.
In the Peace of Christ,