Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Although there is no "God party" in politics, and politics cannot bring us salvation, there are moral imperatives we must take to the booth.

Labor Day

Sept 1, 2008

The command of Jesus to stop worrying about the material needs of the morrow is a perfect message for Labor day. I mean that both in the sense of the celebration of those who work hard for a living–usually worrying about tomorrow in the process–and those who begin active political campaigns on this day–usually worrying about the next four years in the process. The words of Jesus are meant, by way of the Beatitude, blessed are the poor in spirit, to tell us to let the power of God restore the original peace and confidence of the garden God planted in Eden. We can do that only if we make primary the pursuit of the kingdom of God and the righteousness of God. Do that, and all the rest takes care of itself. If we are out of harmony with God, 24 by 7 work and huge investment portfolios simply bring us trouble.

I say that to prepare you for a story about a petition I raised to God at Mass during one of the past election cycles. I asked God for the election of godly candidates to public office–exactly in those words–and after Mass one of our good parishioners criticized me for praying for the election of Republicans. Let’s be clear about one thing: there is not a God party in any election. The European Catholics tried that in the wake of World War II, starting what they called Christian Democrat parties all over Europe. But God’s reign is not of this world. No party can lay claim to divine sanction. Put not your trust in princes.

On the other hand, when Catholics enter the voting booth, we cannot leave our consciences out with our voter registration. There are moral absolutes, and there are irreducible moral minima. I challenge anyone to defend the proposition that it is virtuous to vote for a candidate who wants taxpayers to pay for the murder of babies before they are born. We can disagree about tax rates and Social Security and whether it was justified to topple Saddam, but taxpayer-funded infanticide? Remember, the only difference between a politician who uses your money to pay for abortion and the mafia chieftain who hires a contract killer is that, in abortion, the murdered person is always innocent.

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