No Matter What This Day Brings
It is unusual to wake up on a day and know that it is going to be historic. Usually these sorts of days happen upon us, appearing suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere. Yet here we are. Our nation is deciding our fate.
The temptation is to say that once our ballot is cast or the final vote count eventually comes in, that we’re done. To shrug and carry on. The temptation, for those of us who are able, is to carry on because we can.
No matter what happens when the ballots are counted, there will be those who are disenfranchised. No matter who wins, there will be those who suffer from economic and social injustices. No matter which party resides in the White House or each branch of Congress, our sisters and our brothers will still be sinned against. They will cry out for justice, no matter how today concludes.
We can dismiss it. We aren’t the ones in power. We don’t make the laws, don’t start the wars, don’t set economic policy. Besides, Jesus said, “The poor you will always have with you” (Matthew 26:11).
We can’t forget though what that whole verse says, “The poor you will always have with you; but you will not always have me.” Just the chapter before, Jesus speaks of when he comes in glory and is asked, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?”
We have Jesus Christ among us today and how are we treating him? We are surrounded by millions in the world with a virus that kills and from which people have lasting effects. How do we care for those who are ill? How do we help protect Jesus from becoming ill? We have a criminal justice system that is deeply flawed, intertwined with systemic racism and for-profit prisons. Do we see Jesus in those who live in these deplorable spaces? We have children in cages and parents lost to them. Where did we see divisions and create isolation instead of welcome?
Now go back and read that paragraph again. Replace every “we” with “I” – I’ll wait. Sit with that a moment. Let yourself feel the discomfort. More so when we realize that this saying from Jesus references Deuteronomy 15:11, “The land will never lack for needy persons; that is why I command you: “Open your hand freely to your poor and to your needy kin in your land.”
These days feel apocalyptic. The parable of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25:31-46 is all the more powerful. Yes, we may try to brush off ownership or responsibility for the way the world is. That is not what we are called to by Christ. That is not what our faith teaches. Now, more than ever, it is time to reach into Catholic social teaching, reach into the Gospel, root ourselves in a relationship with our Savior and to act. Now is the time to reach deep and open our hands wide. You, I, we are called to proactively work to build the reign of God. Here. Now.