It is no secret that the world around us is seemingly falling apart at the seams. Our communities are as bitterly divided as they have ever been, as evidenced by the almost daily headlines depicting protests, civil unrest and riots. Politically, our nation appears to be rapidly approaching a dangerous tipping point, as battle lines are being drawn everywhere we look. One need look no further than basic comment sections of social media posts to see just how vitriolic and combative we are becoming as a people. I fear that this anger is beginning to seep into the very fabric of who we are as a nation. Working in a faith-based facility, it would be logical to assume that I am sheltered from this type of behavior, but such assumptions would be incorrect.
What has happened to us? Why have so many of us embraced such a hard, indifferent and cruel worldview? Even as Catholics, so many of us have taken a warped sense of pride in wielding our unkind and uncharitable words like swords. Christ tasked us with being the salt of the earth and yet all too often, we appear willing and eager to partake in the poisoning of our social compact. We, as Americans are a political lot; we always have been. In and of itself, this is neither wholly good nor wholly evil. But when it becomes evident that Jesus is being forced to take a back seat to our political allegiances, we’ve gone way off course. To make things worse, too many of us have tried to convince ourselves that Jesus was something that he wasn’t in order to serve our own political agenda. We employ “alternative facts” in an effort to redefine who Jesus was so that he fits neatly into our politically-biased box of convenience. This is dangerous because it has the potential to turn people away from Christ, what we Catholics refer to as “giving scandal.”
In his letter to the Romans, St. Paul stated, “do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.”(Romans 12:2) I write this not as an advocate for one political party or the other, but as a Catholic and as a servant of Jesus Christ who is concerned that too many Catholics have elevated their political loyalties to a status that takes precedence over their loyalty and fidelity to God. Some would even go so far as to claim that their political loyalty is a result of their loyalty to God, to which I must humbly cry out: “rubbish!” Our Lord implored us to carry his torch, to effectively be His light in the world to others. We cannot serve as a light when our words and actions reek of darkness and surliness. If our demeanor does not emanate love and compassion, then we are not accurately representing He who is the very essence of love and compassion, Jesus Christ.
Our world is clearly in peril. This should certainly give us pause and open our hearts to more frequent occasions of prayer and meditation. But it should also instill in us the wisdom and motivation to accept our collective vocational role in all of this as Christians. We have an opportunity, perhaps greater than any generation has had before us, to shine as the light of Christ in a world that is hellbent on sowing the seeds of its own demise. We have an obligation to carry His torch and to rise above the pettiness, the vulgarity and the ugliness of our modern world. Failure, quite simply, is not an option. Our Savior is with us; we must let the world see Him.