Let my tongue loose

I have been very careful during the last few months in my posts, trying to avoid anything that would be considered partisan. I did post critiques of policies I think have been disastrous and sinful. But I had decided, because of my status as a deacon, to avoid naming names.

But now the election is over and I feel no such reluctance.

No matter who is declared the winner of the presidential race, the US and the world have not won. Perhaps they may have lost less but they have not won.

The battle in the US is not of one party against another. I believe it is a battle of the principalities and powers of this world that encourage domination, violence, and division. This will demand ongoing resistance to all – and I mean all – the forces of evil and especially to the roots of these evils in the structures of our societies and in our hearts.

No party and no candidate can be the savior of the nation or the force that will make America great again. I object to the support a Catholic sister publicly gave to Biden as well as to the sometimes veiled, sometimes blatant, support of some priests and bishops for Trump.

I especially object to demeaning rhetoric of any kind – mostly that manifested by adherents of Trump but not lacking in some Democrats – that appears to have fomented diabolical divisions. I use the word “diabolical” intentionally, for many have demonized those who oppose them. It also makes the accuser appear to be claiming to be holy and correct. It is not irrelevant to note that “Satan” means, literally, the accuser. In a canticle used at Thursday Vespers from Revelations 11, we pray that “the accuser of our brothers and sisters be cast out.”

The Democratic party has lost much of its connection with much of the working poor and with many Catholics by some ideological stands, most particularly its stand on abortion. Many middle class workers, including Catholics, have lost faith in the Democratic party because they see it as a party of the elites. This opinion is not dispelled when some Democratic leaders speak disparagingly of the supporters of Trump.

Many in the Republican party have, in many ways, let themselves by captivated by a false religion that may say they is for the unborn but they support policies that promote disdain for those who are different and that discriminate against the poor, the refugee, and people of color. They may oppose abortion but they don’t see the evils of war, militarism, and the death penalty.

But adherents of both parties have let themselves be sold an ideology of power, of violence, and of individualism. Some Democrats have idolized choice when it comes to abortion and some Republicans have idolized individualized choice when it comes to economics and guns.

The sense of the common good seems to have been forgotten by some as has been the sense of responsibility for oneself as well as for one’s neighbor. It’s me, me, me.

In addition, many in both parties have not given up the idolatry of the US as the savior of the world – or, at least, the nation that calls the shots.

This can be seen in US foreign policy under both Democrat and Republican regimes. I think of the ways that Hillary Clinton supported the 2009 coup in Honduras as well as the way many politicians of both parties have supported wars, especially in the Mid-East. Many in both parties have applauded executions of opponents like Osama Bin Laden.

What is my politics? Not Republican, not Democratic, but very much inspired by my faith in a God who became poor, who healed the sick and hung around the wrong people, who suffered under an empire, and who rose from the dead to say that death and the powers of death do not have the final word. He also forgave those who killed him.

I cannot support demonization of anyone. I don’t hate Trump, though that is a temptation. More than anything, I want to cry when I hear what he says and does. I also wonder what he might have suffered.

But I can, and will, speak out against what I see as evil and unjust. That is the call of people of faith.

Saint Óscar Romero, the martyred archbishop of San Salvador, put it well, in his homily of January 22, 1978:

A preaching that does not point out sin
is not the preaching of the gospel.
A preaching that makes sinners feel good,
so that they become entrenched in their sinful state,
betrays the gospel’s call.
A preaching that does not discomfit sinners
but lulls them in their sin
leaves Zebulun and Naphtali
in the shadow of death.

A preaching that awakens,
a preaching that enlightens –
as when a light turned on
awakens and of course annoys a sleeper –
that is the preaching of Christ, calling:
Wake up! Be converted!
That is the church’s authentic preaching.

Naturally, such preaching must meet conflict,
must spoil what is miscalled prestige,
must disturb,
must be persecuted.
It cannot get along with the powers of darkness and sin.

The Violence of Love, pp. 45-46

Following Christ and listening to the prophets is essential.

But above all, I want to accompany those who experience the effects of the structures of sin in our world. And so, I will continue to be with the people in my little corner of the world, as they experience the death of children, the loss of livelihood, the lack of medical care, the corruption of leaders, and more.

How?

Visiting the sick, burying the dead, preaching Good News of hope to the poor, helping people see their inherent dignity as children of God.

Above all, I want to make these two passages of Scripture real in my life.

“…what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly you’re your God.”

Micah 6: 8

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Luke 4: 8-19 (Jesus citing Isaiah)

It’s a lifelong task, requiring love and courage. I ask God to help me be faithful.

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