Sunday, October 25, 2020

30Th Sunday OT (Cycle A) Vote the Catholic Conscience


      OK let me address the 800 pound gorilla in the middle of the room first: In just 9 days there is going to be a general election in our country. I’m sure that by now you are completely fed up with political ads and talking heads telling you how and for whom you should vote. So don't worry I will not talk about who is a better candidate or which political party is on the side of the angels.  What I will do is use today’s readings as a lens to discern not how we should cast our vote for this or that candidate but how we should approach all the important decisions in our lives. For you old Catholics like myself, what I’m trying to do is what the old Baltimore Catechism calls “forming Consciences”.

    How am I going to do this? Well I will take the example of our parents. Any child will tell you that regardless of how much a parent loves us there are certain lines that should never be crossed. Lines that will land us on deep (And I mean DEEEEEEP trouble). Today’s first reading has a very direct way of saying it:”People of Israel do not do these things or my anger will flare up”. No child wants to see a parent’s anger flair up, right?

   So God, who is a Father to all of us, has a breaking point, a moment  no child would like to encounter. What is this point? Well it says it there very clearly: Do not abuse or oppress the alien, the widow, the orphans or the poor. Because all those who have no other recourse than pleading to God for justice, will be heard, and we will have to answer to Our Father for our actions. That is a line we should never cross.

   By now I know that many of you are doing mental mathematics about this or that party, or about this or that candidate being more oppressive than the other. Here is a principle for you: If you can not look at your own party or candidate and say to yourself “I know I’m going to vote for you, but I understand that these things you have done, these things you advocate are wrong, and even evil”; if you can not say this, then you are not using a well formed conscience to exercise your right to vote.

  The reality is that no party is perfect and all candidates are sinners in need of redemption. To demonize one candidate or party so that you can canonize your own is not the action of a well formed conscience. Let me be more specific, If you feel that 60 million abortions are some how OK or that it is a justifiable action to treat illegal immigrants like cattle, to separate children from their parents. You need to form your conscience, before you exercise your vote. The reality is that both parties in our country have not been on the sides of angels for a long, long time.  The voices of every family broken, every refugee summarily deported without recourse, every child separated from their parents by force, every innocent aborted baby, every poor woman tricked into a life of misery, depression, and regret because abortion was the only choice available for her cries to our God for justice. And our Father in heaven listens to each one of these voices. So, if this is not enough to get us all in the confession lines after we cast our votes for party A or party B, I do not know what will.

    So what are we to do? Well, I told you that my goal was to help form  consciences so here it is: Love God above anything else and then love others like you would like to be loved. A well formed conscience always begins with these two principles in mind when making any important decision. Use these principles to do your own “mental math” when deciding how to cast your vote. Read both parties platforms which you can find online, pray about it and cast your vote. Because, no party or candidate is perfect. The reality is that after this election is over not much is going to change regardless of who is in power because when it comes to love of God and love of neighbor both parties have failed on their duty to the American people, especially the most poor, the most vulnerable, the ones who have no voice to speak for themselves.

   You know, people say that they will vote for this or that party because they want “things to change”. Do not cast your vote thinking this. The only thing is going to make things change in our families, our county and our world is if we, republicans, democrats and independents develop a well formed conscience, if we focus on what should be always first, love of God and love of neighbor. 

  9 days from today, go vote, exercise your civil duty, but do it with a clear mind, and on November 4 when we hopefully know who won, lets begin creating the change we so desperately need and want by loving God and Loving our neighbor. GBMBAS