Wednesday, November 7, 2012
A Christian knows when it is time to speak of God and when it is better to say nothing and to let love alone speak. He knows that God is love and that God's presence is felt at the very time when the only thing we do is to love. --- Pope Benedict XVI
Wow! Many people today are saying those words after the ending of an intense election in the States. Those “wows” don’t just come from one side but all sides for many different reasons. There are those who are joyful, some others painfully disappointed and still others unsure and questioning, “Is this what we have become?”
As many of you who know me, I am a quiet and observant. Not quick to judge or to make my voice heard. I like to pause, reflect, and then speak. Always praying and hoping my words may not be just my own, but that of the Gospel, which I strive to live. I know I do not always perfect the Gospel in my own life, but I only pray that I never grow weary of striving towards its fulfillment each day.
As I have watched and listened over the many months, both up close and from afar, I could not help but to think, “Is this what we have become?” From the bickering and complaining, to hurtful and ungodly Facebook postings, to the media who no longer seek the facts nor the truth but their own version of it, “Is this what we have become?”
On a personal note, something more disappointing then the decisiveness in the country is the division within the Church. Catholics arguing amongst Catholics, blame, judgment, and finger pointing towards one another, not to mention the very little time taken to neither listen nor learn.
I truly believe this is where the problem lies. We have stopped listening and learning. We tend to think we have our truth and if we shout it the loudest everyone else will have to accept it as the truth.
This past Sunday, I was reminded by Jesus in the Gospel of Mark of the words first spoken to the Israelites in Deuteronomy 6:4-6. It reads, Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. Take to heart these words which I command you today. These same words Jesus reiterates in Mark 12:29-31, with an additional command: the second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. For Jesus, these two commands sums up the totality and basis of the Law.
Something worth noting is said before the commands are given, it reads, “HEAR, O ISRAEL.” To first hear, we must stop to listen. Not to argue, nor assume, not give our personal opinion, nor put forth our own commands, but first to hear!
I am in all in favor of civil discourse and even disagreement, but something I cannot favor is never taking time to listen and learn. And yet before we even can position ourselves to listen to one another, we must first listen to God. God lays forth the commands. God gives us the ways for moral living. Humans don’t make them up, society cannot pick and choose which ones we would like to live by and others we feel like casting aside. My professor a few days ago told his students, “for justice to work we need moral absolutes which are the backbone for every civil code and society.” I recently read an article that said,
“Many of the people in the world around us embrace divergent worldviews, and many of their views contradict the Christian perspective. As a result, it’s often difficult to get people to even consider the Christian version of moral accountability. In fact, many resist the notion that there is an absolute moral code that comes from a source higher than themselves. When considering the existence of moral truths, the questions are simple: “Does morality come from people or does morality come from God?” “Does our society shape our moral beliefs, or are they handed down to us from God?” If we, as people, are the source of moral truth then we can simply follow our own path. But if morality comes from a source greater than ourselves, we have an obligation to that source and we ought to at least make an effort to identify the source of all moral truth... Transcendent moral truths have great value in that they provide protection from irresponsible behaviors that ultimately hurt each of us (individually) and hurt our relationship with God. It’s been said that “good fences make good neighbors” because fences allow each neighbor to know his or her boundaries. In a similar way, “good fences (moral codes) make good people” because they delineate the moral boundaries that ultimately protect us from doing wrong. It’s not enough for us to embrace and accept a particular moral code. We first need to think clearly about the SOURCE of that moral code. If the source is transcendent and unchanging, we will come to recognize that moral truths are not trivial and transient; they are as fixed unchanging as their source. If this is true, then we are less likely to exchange them whenever we please to meet our human desires.”
Every person, family, community or society has a system of rules that governs its living. For a person to deny this would be foolish. But what governs your system of rules? Where do you learn your values, principles, rights, and wrongs? Are they universal or particular? Do they change with the latest poll or popular opinion? Should it be left to an individual or group to determine today what is wrong and tomorrow what is right? Or should it be left to a SOURCE that is transcendent and unchanging? A SOURCE, which is not looking to change with the latest polls nor is interested in the popular vote. A SOURCE, which creates order out of disorder and brings redemption from suffering. A SOURCE that perhaps we should all take a little more time to spend with, listen to and learn from!
Only from God does true revolution come... the definitive way to change the world.
- Pope Benedict XVI