As you know, I try to stay away from politics from the pulpit. My political persuasions match neither party anyway. I am a true believer in Thomas Payne’s words the government that governs least governs best.
But reflecting on the readings for this week, I came to realize why politics from the pulpit does not work. Politics is about what is best for me and religion is about loving God and neighbor which is completed when I do what is best for you. So right off the bat, they are not compatible.
Jesus today prays to the Father for the apostles and for you and me. He makes some interesting statements.
He explains that they are in the world and not of the world. What does that mean?
St. Thomas Aquinas explains it this way: we are in the world by our bodily presence and but we are not of the world by the direction of our thinking. So we are physically in the world but we follow the direction of the Holy Spirit to think in a different way.
I have said for years that the greatest evils are caused by the mindset of people demanding their world their way. We can see it happening in our own society now. This is the problem of mixing politics and religion. You can see people of both parties demanding their world their way. If we align with them then we join in that mindset. However, we draw our strength and wisdom from the Lord and so we need to think in ways that lead us to do God’s will God’s way. That will always put us at odds with all the political forces in the country.
However, the more we draw on our prayer and deepen our prayer, the more we will see a different way to go that will give testimony to what we believe.
This is what our mission is in our families, our own personal life to be people of prayer, community of prayer and to act on the fruits of our prayer that lead people to see things differently. At least if they do not see things as we do, they understand that we do not see things as they do.
Jesus is praying to the Father to help us to continue the path that began at Baptism. He understands it is a battle. Father Daniel Harrington in his commentary on The Gospel of John explains that Jesus understands how fragile the apostles are, however, it is they who will change the world literally. So he is calling on the Father to protect them from the wiles of the devil and strengthen them in their mission. He makes the same prayer for you. This means that we draw on the Lord and seek to be guided by the lord in all our fragile humanity in ways that change the world. We do not change the world politically, we change the world by our seeking the wisdom of Christ.
We as Catholics play a central role in this and I will add more that the lay Catholics play a stronger role than the bishops. Why? Because the bishops’ role is to be leaders but leaders are most far from the people just by default. The laity is in the world and therefore become the disciples of Christ in your daily life. That is why deepening your prayer every day is essential for you. You are on the front lines in ways that even I am not and I have had my adventure on the front lines in the past.
People will look to you and see your reaction in almost anything because they know you believe. They will assume things about you just because they do not understand what we believe.
This is why the Lord gave us the Sacraments including the Eucharist and Confession so that we may be strengthened in our mission. This is why the Lord gave us the Mass so that we may be united to Him and be strengthened in our mission. We cannot do it without Him because we do not have the strength.
What does the force of evil look like? We can call it sin and sin can be pretty and entertaining and appear harmless. But when sin reaches its fullness what does it look like. The most obvious form is best dramatized by Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. That is the full force of sin against Jesus himself. That is what it looks like. That is the same force that wants to destroy your witness. Are you going to succeed on your own? No way.
We are not strong enough to fight that battle. We must be people of prayer so that the Lord will show us how to fight the battle. What happens when we think we are smart enough to fight our own battles? We will lose miserably to that force we see dramatized in the Passion of the Christ.
The Lord helps us to negotiate in powerful ways.
Does anyone here know why Richard Nixon resigned? He explained later that many saw the nation was weak and the Soviet tanks started to line up on the Turkish border. He knew he had to resign or people would think the US was weak and there would be international repercussions.
How many saw what happened in Israel this week? Why is that happening at this time because our nation is perceived as weak because of all the division we are suffering.
What happens when our Church appears weak? The forces of evil you see in the Passion of the Christ move in and we have seen this over the past decades.
Jesus is preparing the Apostles for a new time. Next Sunday at this time we will be celebrating Pentecost Sunday. Let us pray all this week that this Pentecost will be powerful for us here at St. Anthony Parish. Let us be ready in all our fragility to embrace where the spirit will lead us as the Father sends his spirit upon us and to go out into the world living in his wisdom.
Let us pray:
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of your love.
V. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created.
R. And you shall renew the face of the earth.
Let us pray. O God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant us in the same Spirit to be truly wise and ever to rejoice in His consolation. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Sam.Donvil, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons