Bottom line: Political involvement is an aspect of the love Jesus requires.
Today a legal scholar asks Jesus, "Master, which commandment of the law is the greatest?" We know the answer: You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all soul and with all your mind. To that overriding requirement, Jesus adds, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
Love is the foundation and goal of our lives as Christians. In his essential book, Render Unto Caesar, Archbishop Chaput sums it up this way: "We are made for Love, to receive love and to show love to others. That´s why we're here. That's our purpose. And it has very practical consequences - including the political kind."
Now, Archbishop Chaput admits that the word, love, has become devalued - like a currency that once bought a steak dinner, but now can barely purchase a donut. As he say, "Much of modern Christian life seems like a bad version of a Beattle's song rather than the morning of Pentecost." We need to revalue the meaning of love. Perhaps this comparison will help: You probably know that at one time our country was on the "gold standard." It meant that a citizen could exchange his paper notes for a certain weight of gold or silver. I have no opinion about whether we were better off under the gold standard, but I do know this: We Christians must return to the gold standard when we speak about love.
What is the "gold standard" of love? Once again, I quote Archbishop Chaput: "For a Christian love is not simply an emotion. Feelings pass. They´re fickle and they often lie. Real love is an act of will, a sustained choice that proves itself not just by what we say, but by what we do."*
Emotions of course are important - and we should do all we can to have positive feelings toward family members, co-workers and fellow parishioners. But love itself is not a feeling. Love is a decision. And I should add that it is a gift of the Holy Spirit, because none of us on our own is capable the love Christ requires of us.
In the last few decades many of us have learned a new word for love: Stewardship. It begins with the grateful recognition that all we are and all we have comes from God - and that we have a responsibility to use our time, abilities and financial resources for God´s glory and the good of our neighbor. One aspect of Stewarship - or love - is political involvement. It is not the biggest part of love, but it is an aspect that no adult citizen can shirk. For better or worse (and in my opinion, for worse) the governement has taken an ever increasing role in our lives.** It is easy to complain, but criticism is not love. Love means to do whatever positive we can.
I am not going to tell anyone how to vote, but I do encourage you to read Archbishop Chaput's book for a fine exposition of the basic principles that should guide our political involvement. They are basically an application of what we heard in this Sunday's first reading - a concern to the most vulnerable. At that time the widow, the orphan and the foreigner. Today of course we must add: the unborn child and the terminally ill. Political involvement - voting, writing a letter to one's representative, etc. - is one means we have to defend the vulnerable. It is one aspect of the love that Jesus requires of us. It is not the greatest part of love: to treat others fairly and honestly is obviously a greater expression of love. Still, political involvement expresses an aspect love that no adult citizen can neglect. It is part of what it means to put God first - and to love one's neighbor as oneself.
*Archbishop Chaput examines other words that are "routinely misused in public debate to serve selfish and destructive ends." For example: pluralism, tolerance, multi-culturalism, consensus, choice, the common good, democracy, equal rights and, above all, conscience. His examination of these much abused words is worth the price of the book.
**The expanding role of government has taken a pernicious form in recent years. Many people look to the government (or want to use the government) to declare what is right and wrong. Most gravely, many people consider that because abortion is legal, therefore it is not wrong. Similarly there is a strong movement to recognize homosexual "marriage," and thus to assert that homosexual activity is not wrong or sinful.
General Intercessions for the Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A (from Priests for Life)
From Archives (for Thirtieth Ordinary Sunday, Year A):
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)
Are these homilies a help to you? Please consider making a donation to St. Mary of the Valley Parish.
Fr. Brad's Homilies (well worth listening)
Bulletin (St. Mary's Parish)
Bulletin (message from Peru for Holy Family Parishioners)
Pictures from Peru (October 2008 Visit)
Good news for Mark Shea fans: Modern Myths and Ancient Truth (First Volume of Mary Trilogy) will soon be published. Read advanced praise from Frs. Neuhaus & Groeschel, Dr. Scott Hahn, Amy Welborn and others.
From Dawn Eden - a call for prayers for a med student who witnessed her first abortion and "saw some things I can’t get out of my head."
Novena for Youth (to discover God's plan)
Death of Major Robert D. Lindenau
(Husband of my niece Tonya)
Parish Picture Album
Robbery caught on parish surveillance camera
Can you help the Monroe Police identify this man?
October 12, 2011 at St. Mary of the Valley, Monroe, WA (longer version):
At 0:03 man enters through open gate in fence, looks, seems to turn around and walk back (going north)
0:43 two men enter slowly, walk along fence (going west), disappear from view of surveillance camera
1:15 one man approaches car, looks through front window on passenger side, inserts tool into upper left corner between door frame and window, pulls causing glass to shatter. He grabs an item from car and leaves quickly. The robbery takes place in less than 20 seconds.
Parish Picture Album
MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru