February 19, 2017 – A View from the Rectory Window

 

Throughout last year’s political campaign and in our present political climate I have wrestled with how I should respond as our nation struggles with issues. From my vantage point, social and political issues have riveted our collective attention as at no time in my recent memory. How should I, and we, respond to all of the tumult?

I suppose an obvious, and convenient answer would be that the priest should stick to talking about God and let society wrestle with its politics and culture. This idea harmonizes with our received notions of the separation of church and state, and at a deeper level it preserves a clear distinction between what is secular and what is sacred. Finally, it guarantees that going to Mass will provide relief from the relentless commentary people receive through our ever-multiplying media.

But two weeks ago at Mass, in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount He referred to us as the “Salt of the Earth,” and the “Light of the World.” These images of salt and light, and His divine mandate, I believe obligate us to engage comprehensively with society. Interacting with the culture and politics of our times comprises a vital part of being Christian. Last Sunday and today, our Gospel, which continues Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, poses a social comprehensiveness that I believe, weighs in definitively on current issues.

The Sermon on the Mount issues a call to conversion that touches each aspect of our lives and works steadily against any compartmentalization of life. The truth of our Catholic Christian faith undermines the walls protecting us from our responsibility to our society.
In the case of culture and politics, the Sermon on the Mount’s surprising take on life shows the points in common that lie beneath so many disputes and the human sameness behind so much apparent difference and polemic. For this reason, we cannot insulate ourselves from our times but must engage our world in the ways of mercy and justice.

And so I have one answer to my initial question; May His Sermon (and not mine) direct us in these challenging times to transform our society in accord with the foundational principles of our faith and country,

Fr. Pete