These pre-election days are filled with the noise of a number of Catholic Bishops issuing denunciations of “some candidates and one party” because of positions on contraception, abortion and gay marriage that the Bishops deem “intrinsically evil” or against the “common good.”
Far more helpful are the words of Jesus in this Sunday’s Gospel. He taught us that nothing is more important than to love God by loving our neighbor.
Marianist Fr. George Cerniglia who celebrated the Eucharist at the Mystical Rose Oratory this morning, reminded us that amidst the noise that surrounds us, it may be hard sometimes to pick up on the voice of the Divine. That’s why, if we remember nothing else, he said, we would do well to “listen and love” the way Jesus listened and loved.
Listening and loving as Catholics steeped in the example of Jesus and in the social justice teachings of the Gospel should mean that we:
-look out for those in need
-support public policies more likely to lead to the life-affirming dignity of everyone having a roof over their heads and food on the table
-put need before greed
But Catholics are not unique in their understanding of what it means to listen and love. As Thomas Friedman –and thoughtful people from other faith traditions–have said, “Respect for life has to include respect for how that life is lived, enhanced and protected — not only at the moment of conception but afterward, in the course of that life.“
I think Jesus is standing with those working mothers and other harried citizens already waiting in long lines for hours to vote, only to find the doors closed in their faces. I am convinced he would cast his vote with the candidate whose record of helping struggling families is greater than his record of accumulating personal wealth; the candidate who wants the wealthy to give more and who sees everyone—regardless of their sexual orientation or ethnicity—as equals and deserving of the same opportunities and treatment under the law. Jesus who invited those without sin to cast the first stone at the woman accused of adultery and would not condemn her himself, would hardly stand with those who promote discrimination of any kind. Not towards the 47%. Not towards women. Not towards LGBT people. Surely Jesus who brought so many out of darkness into light, would cast his vote with the candidate who wants to help others to come out of the darkness of poverty into the light of a life illumined by education. Because we are not all born into privilege with the resources to purchase opportunity. He who welcomed strangers and sinners, outcasts of every kind, he who refuses to condemn but invites us all to care as He cared: I think we can all be sure how He would cast his vote.
All politics is personal. Catholics with relatives struggling under the burden of crushing medical bills; those who yearn to put their children on the ladder of education that will let them build a better life; women who want to keep the rights they now have and be treated as equals in the workplace; the dreamers of every color and faith: we all need to listen and love. And, listening, cast our vote.