COMPLETE THE CIRCLE
By George Evans
I finally acknowledged to myself that I am a news junkie and that it fills time with unhappiness. The more I watch and read the more concerned I get. I am afraid our country is in a rudderless free fall. Republicans are awash with Trump and don’t seem to know what to do with him. Democrats are just lost going around in circles hoping the merry-go-round stops somewhere so they can get their act together before the mid term elections in order to take back some power in Congress. It seems to me God is testing us as individuals and as a country to try to do the right thing.
What is he calling us to do? My thoughts for whatever they are worth follow. My prayer and meditation in the morning is more and more involved with begging direction for our elected leaders both in the White House and Congress. I still believe that America offers the best chance possible to make present the kingdom of God. Jesus proclaims in the gospel that the kingdom is at hand and calls us to follow him in bringing it to fruition. He gives us a blue print in the New Testament by completing and fulfilling the Old Testament. He spent three years giving us directions in the gospels. Some of those directions are very hard to follow, like turning the other cheek and giving away all we have in order to follow him more completely.
We parse a lot of what he says to justify how we try to follow him. Politically we do a lot of that to try to make things work and to get “our people” elected or reelected as the case may be. We debate taxes and economics, immigration and national loyalty, education and jobs, health and welfare, infrastructure needs and many other things. We don’t spend as much time discussing what is best for the common good or how to practically close the ever increasing gap between rich and poor. We tend to leave these latter matters to think tanks, nonprofits or religious endeavors so that answers are slow, if ever, to appear.
I like the fact my retirement account has recently done well. But I grieve over all the people I visit on St. Vincent de Paul home visits who have no IRA and are trying to live on a less than $1,000 a month disability check, a minimal social security check, or two minimum wage jobs.
There seems to be little hope that government will take any meaningful steps to help in these or similar cases. Do we then just despair and give up? No, we can’t do that. I think we have to recommit to do all we can to make a difference. We are needed to bring the best we can to politics by bringing to bear our values, gospel values and Church values to the present morass. As Pope Francis tells us we are needed in the public square regardless of how unpleasant it may be.
The deeper I search myself, I realize that I can do more through the Church or other organizations to make some difference in the gap between rich and poor, unvulnerable and vulnerable, active and homebound, established and migrant. Its not fair to just blame politicians if we are not improving on our own selfishness in not reaching out and serving those in need.
Only we can do the proper self exam in this regard. The Old Testament prophets call for this repeatedly. Jesus mandates this repeatedly and in Matthew 25 makes it a condition for salvation in the dramatic depiction of the last judgment.
Writing this column has convinced me to be less frustrated with our times and more dedicated to making a difference myself in service and compassion and I invite anyone who has been struggling with some of the same things to join me in the effort. Wouldn’t it be fun to make a contribution by what we do?
(George Evans is a retired pastoral minister from Jackson St. Richard Parish.)