As I have noted in the past few weeks, almost everything that is said or done right now is filtered through a political lens and is a cause for outrage and anger. Even when I recently attempted to distance myself from the partisanship of the present time, that too offended some, who felt that I was encouraging people to vote as I would vote. I have never, and will never, encourage anyone to vote according to my conscience and my beliefs.
But I do want to encourage everyone to vote according to your own conscience and beliefs. We live in very difficult times, and we need to select people at the national, state and local levels who we believe will be the most effective in leading us through these times, and who will do so in a way that reflects the teaching and example of Christ. This is the most political statement that you will hear me make.
Having said that, I do not believe that politics is the answer to the many crises that we face as a nation and as a world. Political leaders can certainly do much to make things better or worse, but the real answer to the problems that we face are deeper than politics.
There is a scene in the Gospels where the Apostles are trying to cast out an unclean spirit from a person and are failing. Jesus stepped in and successfully cast it out. When the Apostles asked why they had been unsuccessful, he said that this kind can only be cast out by prayer and fasting.
I believe that this is true of the present times in which we live. Our nation is so divided right now and there is so much hatred and hostility in the air that no politician or political party will be successful in bringing us together. We need the grace of God to help us to overcome those things that divide us and bring us together. This requires prayer and fasting.
In this month of October, I strongly encourage that each of us pray the rosary, but any form of prayer will do. I am not just talking about finding a quick prayer that we can rattle off, but a prayer form that will lead us deeply into communion with God as we ask him to assist us in this hour of darkness. Also, I encourage each of us to find some form of fasting to accompany our prayer. This may be abstaining from meat on Friday or some other form of sacrifice, such as spending one day a week consuming only bread and water, giving up television, or making some other expression of self-denial.
In his recent encyclical, Fratelli Tuti (Brothers and Sisters All), Pope Francis calls us to see others, whomever they may be, as our brothers and sisters. He says that at the heart of the problems the world faces is a failure to see everyone as our brother or sister. Rather, the world is divided into us and them. This may be on an international level or a more personal level.
When we fail to see those of another nation, another political party or political position, of another race or creed or sex or age group as our brothers and sisters, then we cannot work effectively with them. They become the enemy, the opponent, the opposition, the foe. This brings us into war thinking, in which the other must be defeated, overcome, crushed. As we look around, division and opposition is the problem. More division and opposition cannot be the solution.
In this Pro-Life Month we are reminded that all human beings are created in the image and likeness of God and are God’s children. That means that every other human being is my brother or sister, as I am a child of God. We are to love our neighbor as ourselves, to forgive our brother and sister from our hearts. In the encyclical the Holy Father recalls the scene from the Book of Genesis, when God comes to Cain after he has killed his brother Abel. “Where is your brother?” “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Indeed we are, and my brother or sister is every other human being in this world.
Pope Francis devotes one whole chapter of his encyclical to the parable of the Good Samaritan. Jesus has taught that we are to love our neighbor as our self, and a lawyer, “wishing to justify himself”, asks, “Who is my neighbor?” Rather than answer the question he has been asked, Jesus turns it around and asks, “To whom am I neighbor?” The Samaritan, who was a hated foreigner, was neighbor to the man, while his own countrymen and fellow believers turned their back on him.
Who do I fail to love and respect and care for as my brother or sister? Who in my mind is the enemy, the foe, the opponent, the other?
We Christians, we followers of Jesus Christ, must show the world the way out of this present darkness, not by preaching Christ to others, but by seeking to follow him more faithfully ourselves and learning how to love as he loves.
Although voting is not the ultimate answer, it does matter. Vote!
— Fr. Mike Comer