It’s been twenty two days now since the U.S. presidential election. And, it’s been over thirty days since I’ve checked any news source to see how the election went down. I’ve not watched television, read a newspaper, listened to the radio, or ventured onto social media. I did stop by a friends house on Thursday evening after the election and he had his television on with election coverage. It seemed there was yet to be declared a winner because of evidence of voter fraud in some states. By now, that could even be old news. I wouldn’t know and I have no interest in finding out anything more. I will learn when the time is right. But, for now, I am at peace.
I am not a very political person in the first place, but I did vote for my preferred candidate. I voted my conscience, which was guided by my faith, and for what I thought was best for the future of America. Beyond that, there was not much I could do to affect the outcome other than pray that God’s will be done…. and hope that it matched mine. Yes, like most folks, I have my concerns of how life will be if the election goes opposite of the way I would like.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us, “they will seize and persecute you… have you led before kings and governors….and you will be hated by all because of my name, but not a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance you will secure your lives.“ (Lk 21:12-19) The day may come when I am indeed persecuted, but I’ve decided I will not let it disturb my peace of mind and heart.
I found I was losing that peace by allowing myself to get caught up in the pre-election noise and angry vitriol that was being spewed from both camps. I’ve been voting for forty-four years and, although this is nothing new, I’ve never seen our nation as polarized as it is now, nor as divided between good and evil.
To compound my disillusionment with the whole mess, I sadly noticed that many people on social media who professed to be Christian, fellow Catholics included, were equally offensive. The Christian faithful, in defense of their candidates and moral beliefs, seemed all too eager and willing to join in the artillery battle and retaliate by lobbing an equal number of bombs on their opponent. For a child of the Cold War, it conjured up visions of a nuclear holocaust where he-who-runs-out-of-bombs-first is the loser when in fact everybody loses. Eventually, someone will hold the office as the next President. But, whichever way it falls, the character of our country has already suffered crippling losses because the morally right allowed themselves to be drug down from the mountain and into the muck.
I wondered if a non-Catholic who knows that we are called to love our neighbor even when a part of us might wish he or she would get run over by a beer truck would recognize us by our words and actions? It seemed to me that, in our Christian parlance, we hated the sinner and anyone associated with the sinner as much or more as we hated their sins. Anyone who might have been considering joining our Catholic ranks could easily have deduced that our faith was in one political party or the other and not with Jesus Christ, himself.
Life is full of hard times and unpleasant circumstances – difficulties which we do not like, do not choose and cannot change – that go against our will and cause us grief. Politics is simply one of those circumstances. You have only a fifty-fifty chance of being satisfied with the outcome. God doesn’t create the outcome to be viewed as punishment for those who don’t get their way. But, He allows it for the purpose of a greater good to be realized. We are not God so we don’t have the inside scoop on what that greater good will be. But, we are called to have faith, a faith that accepts that all will work out well for those who love and trust in Him. Thus, anyone who finds themselves either overly ecstatic or depressed by the election outcome has placed their faith in a human being instead of God.
As Catholics, we are called to evangelize, a job at which, I admit, we are not very effective. But, I can’t imagine that Jesus intended for us to evangelize by placing our faith in a political party and then beating the other side over the head with it. If anything, we are called to have such a strong trust in His will that we are willing to turn the other cheek. Rather than expending so much energy frustratingly trying to change other’s political views that don’t match up morally with our own, we ought, instead, to be putting our effort into living virtuously, making friends with people, getting to know them and understanding why they believe what they believe. We might learn something and they might become open and comfortable to do the same with us Catholics, thus opening the door for us to introduce or reintroduce them to Jesus Christ. Is this not what the early Christians did while they were being persecuted during that first three hundred years after Christ’s death? Are they not the ones who, per today’s first reading are those who are “standing on the sea of glass”, “who have won victory over the beast”, and who are singing, “the song of the Lamb” (Rv 15:1-4)?
You might think that I, by choosing to not follow the election coverage, don’t care about what’s going on in our nation, about all its problems and lack of unity. You’d be wrong. I care so much that I want to focus my efforts on what I believe are the root problems, namely a lack of faith and virtue, and a departure from the moral values inscribed on our hearts by our Creator. I choose to turn my back on the one-sidedness of the news media, and ignore the anxiety to which the world would have us fall prey and which causes us to lose hope. It may feel as though the world is going to hell in a hand-basket but I refuse to let it steal my peace. Nor will I allow it to make me live my life worrying about the future. The future is in good hands with God. He will come, “to govern the world with justice and the peoples with fairness.” (Ps 98:9)
This last Sunday morning, as I walked out of church after Mass, at which we celebrated the Solemnity of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, two friends began to complain about the election not knowing that I have chosen to remain reclusive with respect to the media. I quickly raised my hand to signal resistance, let them know that I did not know where the election stood, and politely asked them to not spoil it for me. Then, in response to their confused looks, I explained that, for me, no matter who wins the Presidency, the real One Who was, is, and will forever be in charge is He Who was raised to His throne by being hung on a cross. He brings me peace and, in Him, I place my faith, trust and allegiance.
In whom do you place your faith, trust and allegiance? Does that one bring true and everlasting peace to your soul? Are you inviting chaos and anxiety into your life and allowing the bitter dissonance of the world to control you? There is a better way – a way of faith, hope and love in Jesus Christ.
“Heavenly Father, on this day before our National Day of Thanksgiving, I give You thanks that I live in the greatest nation ever created. We may have our problems, but there’s no physical place, economic or political system on earth better than the United States of America. I pray that we turn to Your Son, Jesus, as our guiding light, and for the fortitude to bring others to Him. I pray for the intercession of our Mother Mary, to whom our great nation is consecrated, to protect us under her mantle from the Evil One. Amen.”
(Finding Peace In The One Who Is Really In Charge, was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)
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