By Tony Magliano
Not only is the United States a divided country, but the Catholic Church in the U.S. is as divided as the nation. And the presidential election drove home that point.
According to the Jesuit review America, the Associated Press VoteCast declared that 50 percent of Catholics backed Trump, while 49 percent voted for Biden.
Many Catholics, like many other Christians appear to be predominantly guided by their preferred political leaders, nationalistic tendencies, the culture, conservative or progressive leanings, their wallet and their often unconscious prejudices. These unhealthy tendencies are not conducive to building unity within Catholicism, nor overall Christianity. It doesn’t have to be this way.
Let’s really try to live our lives in such a way that everything we think, feel, say and do faithfully reflects what Jesus taught us as recorded in the four Gospel accounts of our Lord.
And let’s also go the extra mile: Let’s apply the words and actions of Jesus to the cultural, economic, and the political areas of our nation and world. Now you might be thinking how on earth – especially in today’s highly fractured societies – can we possibly do this?
Well, let’s consult the angel Gabriel. When this messenger from the Almighty visited the teenage Jewish woman Mary and conveyed to her God’s desire to take on human nature by being conceived in her virgin womb, Gabriel put to rest her natural query saying, “For nothing will be impossible for God.” But while of course this is true, we like Mary need to give our wholehearted “yes” to God. We need to cooperate with God’s life of grace in order for grace to be fully operative in our lives – and by extension in our suffering world.
But how can we translate this into public policies and civil laws with so many different contrasting opinions?
Let’s let the Gospel lead the way!
In the last judgment scene of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus rewards with eternal life those who have loved him by feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, welcoming the stranger, clothing the naked, consoling the sick and imprisoned.
And so, the Gospel mandate is for us to fully address the legitimate needs of the many Americans and countless human beings around the world lacking sufficient nutritious food and clean water, decent clothing and housing, quality comprehensive healthcare, humane restorative prison reform and a warm welcome.
It is necessary to remember that as important as it is for us to individually respond to these needs, it is also absolutely essential for governments to fully respond to these needs as well.
And certainly Jesus’ total nonviolent example calls us to convert our high tech swords into instruments of peace. Thus Catholics and all Christians – if we are to be faithful to the Gospel – need to take the Gospel of peace to heart.
Exactly what types of laws, budgets and public policies that need to be enacted is open to honest, respectful and compassionate debate. But that debate needs to lead to timely and fully adequate comprehensive solutions.
If each one of us starts and finishes with the Gospel mandate that every single human being – born and unborn – deserves not only to live, but deserves to live with dignity in a world where people come before profit, where the care of the earth outweighs corporate greed and where nonviolent solutions replace war, we will surely find ways to move governments, corporations and economies toward the right way – the Gospel way!