Summary: The problem is not something solvable by election returns, and we have to stop acting like it is.
Thursday of the 25th Week in Course 2020
National Day of Prayer/Fasting
Herod Antipas was the primo politician of Palestine two thousand years ago. As one of the few surviving offspring of Herod the Great, Antipas ruled Galilee and Perea, but he was pretty paranoid. John the Baptist had preached against his incestuous second marriage to Herodias, and was arrested and murdered for his standing up for the Law of God. One thing is very clear about him and about most politicians, though. They tend not to pay attention to the warnings of the prophet Qoheleth, called Ecclesiastes, our first reading. What makes a man happy? Nothing on this world–not pleasure, not honor, not power. The only thing–and not a thing–that can fill the hole in the human heart is God. That’s because what is missing in our lives is all that can fulfill them–and they are God-sized and God-shaped voids that we long for until we are united with Him. That’s what–or who–satisfies us with His love, and with it we can rejoice and be glad all our days. Period.
Today is a national day of prayer and fasting, like the one called for by both Houses of Congress on April 30, 1863, while the nation was in the midst of an awful intersectional war, one that tore apart states and families and left behind a century or more of suspicion and bitterness. Some already believe we are as a nation today so torn apart into left and right that there is no hope of avoiding another such bloody conflict. I hope none of us want this. Violence never solves anything. So we should first of all pray that peaceful hearts and minds prevail, and that our national elections are conducted in equity and peace.
But I am going to get a little political here, because I can’t get to the point of the Scriptures without doing so. It was over a decade ago that I was leading the prayers at a Sunday Mass, and inserted this rather innocuous petition: “For the election of godly candidates to lead our state and nation.” Immediately after the service, a congregation member, a well-known attorney, came up to me and accused me of praying that the candidates of a particular party would win. I’ll leave you to speculate what party he accused me of praying for; yes, he was a leader in the other party. Now that was something we should always pray for. Was he telling me he knew that the candidates from his own party were godless? I’ve wondered about that ever since.
No, high emotion in a political season is not new. But I doubt any of us has seen anything like what we are experiencing in 2020. And with good reason. I’m speaking only as a Christian leader. We know that if one party takes total control of the federal government, it will be not much fun for Christians who take the Gospel of Life seriously. They will remove all impediments to murdering children before and during and maybe even right after they are born. And they will make us pay for the crime. That’s enough to make Christians cringe. There are other serious differences, but most of them don’t rise to the monstrous level of abortion and infanticide.
I’ve said many times that I will not tell you how to vote, but I will add that whatever the outcome, the fight for the life of our nation and the conscience of her people will not end on November 4. Yes, one outcome is likely in the next few years to cause a fairly serious persecution of Christians, particularly Catholics. We affirm the right to life from conception to natural death. We affirm that marriage is between one man and one woman for life. We teach the primacy of the family unit as the basis of society. We hold that Our Lord ordained only men, and we don’t have the right to do otherwise. I anticipate a move to take away the Church’s tax exempt status based on that one teaching alone, let alone the others.
But the opposite election result does not lead to universal peace and joy, folks. There may be more unrest and violence either way. The problem is never something solvable by election returns, and we have to stop acting like it is. Everything this world can offer–even total equality between sexes and races and ethnic groups, even economic progress–everything is vanity. The problem is in the human mind and heart. Only a massive time of repentance, conversion and healing can give us real progress as a nation. So let’s pray today, each of us individually and together, that God convert our hearts–mine and yours–and those of our neighbors of all political persuasions, for a true turning back to God, and a listening to His Law of Love. Love God above all things and our neighbor as ourselves. That alone can be a permanent solution, an action that is not a vain chase after wind.