Post-Election Homily for November 13

Homily for the Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Scriptures for today's Mass


Thanksgiving is around the corner and  Advent, too,
and the beginning of a new liturgical year.
As one year of grace is about to close,       
we always hear scriptures like these describing the end time.
 “The day is coming - the day of the Lord…
There will be signs in the sun, in the moon and the stars…
Some will claim to be a savior - don’t believe them…
You’ll be called on to testify to the truth of what you believe…
Some will hate you on account of your beliefs…
There will be discord everywhere - even in your own family…”

Judging from the news, some folks seem to think, they’re acting as if,
the end times began this past week: it’s all done  - it’s over.
The emotions of victory and loss,
the feelings of pain and confusion are palpable.

A young man from our parish who’s away at school
wrote to me the day before yesterday and he said,
“Father, some people are really afraid here.
I spoke with a woman today who was weeping
because she was afraid of the future for her and her friends.
I didn't know what to do or what to say.
I know gay Catholics, Catholics of color, female Catholics
- and they're all looking for answers.
A lot of folks are talking to me because they know I go to church,
they know I’m a believer.
But I don’t know what to tell them when they say they don't know
how to reconcile all this with their faith.
This woman and I ended up talking about everything
except how our faith fit into the future of the country.
I've been thinking a lot about what Jesus said
about us being salt and light in the lives of our neighbors -
but I’m not sure I’m up to the task.”

I wrote back with some advice and I assured this young man
that if his faith is drawing his peers to talk to him
he’s already being salt and light in their lives
and his life as a believer is bearing fruit:
being there for others is the first dynamic of Christian witness.

But let’s take another look at that question,
How does our faith fit into the future of our country?
Whether you were happy or sad with the election results,
we all face the reality of a divided nation,
a nation divided by power struggles and politics,
by ignorance and ideologies, by selfishness and secularism.
All of this pushing both the left and the right further from the center
and widening the gulf in between and filling it with venom and vitriol.
How does our Catholic Christian faith fit into the future of our country?
How do we react, how do we respond to so much unrest
around us and within us?

Today’s scriptures are helpful in considering these questions.
The prophet Malachi paints a fearful picture of devastation,
 “a day blazing like an oven” and he’s writing to believers,
believers who had grown self-content, lax
and luke-warm in their faith.
But for those who persevere, says Malachi,
the “sun of justice will rise with healing rays.”

We Christians have choices to make
when we look at our nation’s political and moral landscape.
How our faith fits into the country’s future will depend on our willingness to move from self-contentment to  self-sacrifice for others,
especially the poor,
and our turning up the heat of our faith where it’s grown luke-warm.

We have a truth to speak but before we can tell it
we must first know it and understand it --
and then find the courage to articulate it.
If we hope to bask in the healing rays of the sun of justice,
we’ll need first to pursue the work of justice ourselves -
and not leave it to others.

In Psalm 146 we read this warning:
Put no trust in princes who are powerless to save you,
who, breathing their last, return to the earth,
all their planning coming to nothing.
Rather, blessed are those who hope in the Lord, their God:
God who made heaven and earth, who keeps faith forever,
who secures justice for the oppressed,
who gives bread to the hungry,
who sets captives free, who gives sight to the blind,
who protects the resident alien,
who comes to the aid of those in need
and who thwarts the way of the wicked.

I’m not proposing here a naïve, apolitical piety
that pays no attention to the real world.
Rather, I set before us an invitation
to look the real world straight in the eye
and to respond as the Lord has commanded us.

Please: don’t look for or find in my words any veiled support
for one candidate or another, for one political party or another.
That’s not my business here.
In my own estimation, both major parties and their candidates were
critically and woefully deficient in offering a platform or person
I wanted to endorse.

My task, rather, is respond to my young friend’s question:
How does our Catholic Christian faith fit into the future of our country?
And perhaps a better phrasing of his question might go like this:
If you and I are going to be part of the future of our country,
and we are,
how will we bring the faith of the gospel and the light of its truth
to bear upon the political scene
in clear, convincing and compelling ways?

Regardless of which candidate might have won the election,
half our nation was going to be sorely, bitterly disappointed.
But that’s the last word only if we
 “put our trust in princes, in those whose plans come to nothing.”

We are a people who profess to put our trust in the Lord,
in the Prince of Peace.
We put our faith in the One who, for love of us,
gave himself for us on the Cross and rose, like the sun of justice,
with healing rays of mercy to forgive and heal us.

We put our faith not in the United States
or in its government or its officials.
We put our faith in God.
Pray with me that one day our country might truly be
one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.


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