There is a nip in the air, the leaves are turning colors and falling, must be fall. During this year of the pandemic, much of what we normally do to mark the times and seasons has been halted, but this year something that has not halted is the acrimony of the upcoming election. Sad but true we don’t seem to disagree with one another, we rather mostly choose the strategy of demonize and destroy. In Confession I have been giving the penance of you must record and watch political ads, everyone is begging for Hail Mary’s.
I have been quiet with sending you thoughts and ideas for the last several months. I have been leery of politicking, of sanctifying my point of view with the implication that it is the “right” “true” “Catholic” way to see things and understand the love of God and the demands that love makes on us. I work hard to form my conscience, to let the Gospel of Christ Jesus and the understanding of the church be the foundation of my forming. I’m not unwilling to share my conclusions either. But my role of pastor places me in a difficult spot. I am to lead you to your own coming to form your conscience, and to do it not with my opinions but rather with your prayer and study and wrestling with the complexity of a informed conscience in our angry and divided world. In a world where our ability to respect life is thwarted in many daily choices. In our bulletins now for weeks there have been articles with information and direction to sources from the church to read and digest. This is true of the Review. There is no shortage of good and helpful input to help you shape and form your conscience.
In the fullness of time, our Savior came, to lead us toward the fullness of life that is God’s gift to every human being. He came, taught, lived, loved, and gave his life to set us free from sin and death. We believe this at the core of our believing. But it was not a coerced salvation offered us, it was one which would require from us constant commitment to conversion, repentance, lifelong learning, growing in kindness the greatest testament to holiness. Jesus gave us an example of self-sacrificial love, not just answers, he gave us understanding of God’s goodness and all that that means and asks of us. He called us to love God and one another, to make of our families, and neighborhoods and nations a communion of people working together to live life with the respect and dignity it requires and cries for. He came to give us life, and to give it abundantly.
People send me hateful stuff in the name of Christ. If I were a courageous pastor, they say, I would roundly condemn those with whom they disagree, I would join in telling people that they will go to hell if they support a candidate with whom they disagree. I am conceited enough to play God sometimes, when my spirit is worn and my intelligence weakened; but sending someone to hell is the most human of choices, the One who came to save us came to free us from that destruction. God’s way is the way of forgiveness, for which everyone of us, sinners all, should be everlastingly grateful. I say I want this election season to be over, but that is not true, I want the hating to stop, the smug self-righteous condemnation to stop, the all too human demonize and destroy strategy for “protecting” to stop. I want every child conceived to be born, every aging and infirm person to be cared for, for us all to embrace small sacrifices to protect one another from contagion, for humankind to move beyond our petty distinctions that divide and destroy based on race or sex or class or ethnicity or language or culture. Grace empowers us to be better, to find unity among our great diversity, to love and to forgive, to nurture and sustain, to build the Kingdom of God here and now, to say no to anything that is not of God.
So if you have not already done so, please do your duty as a responsible citizen and vote. Be an informed and thoughtful voter even with the judges. Do the praying and thinking and loving required to form your conscience grounded in the Power of God’s goodness.
Stay healthy, stay positive, find time for gratitude, always be humble and kind. Fr. Jim