Just a word… Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time…

Just a word… Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time… September 6, 2020

A friend pointed me toward a timely article published on Friday in the Wall Street Journal. It was written by the Episcopal priest and former Missouri senator John Danforth, and Fr. Matt Malone, a Jesuit priest and the editor in chief of America Magazine. The article is entitled, “A First Step Toward Loving Our Enemies.”

Although I am not at liberty to quote the article to you, I urge you to read it in its entirety, as its message is germane to both our civil divide and our ecclesial dysfunction.

The article begins with a 2015 quote from Pope Francis speaking in front of Congress, in which he calls for an end to “the simplistic reductionism which sees only good or evil; or, if you will, the righteous and sinners.” The denial of the existence of nuance and layers of meaning in the views of any who are in or seek positions of authority, can result in such oversimplification that can obscure our perception of deeper meanings and possibly cloud our judgment. Demonizing the other, although tempting, threatens to tear asunder the fabric of our nation and our church.

What does this article have to do with today’s readings? I would suggest that Paul, in saying “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” echoing Leviticus and Jesus, gives us one answer. And our Gospel, in calling for reconciliation among those who disagree, for the good of ourselves and our communities, reinforces that response.

As Christians, we are called to build bridges across divides, to treat one another as brothers and sisters, to forgive one another, and to work for the common good. Conversation not confrontation, respect instead of disdain, inclusion over exclusion, comprise the roadmap that leads to building the kingdom of God that Jesus preached.

Does this mean that we have to relinquish our beliefs, or acquiesce to another’s point of view? No…but it does mean that we have to listen to and respect one another as a child of God, with inherent human dignity, even when our politics differ, be they in civic society or in the church. And why should we do this? Because after all is said and done, as Hebrew National states in advertizing their hot dogs, “We answer to a higher authority.”

Enjoy the Labor Day Holiday!

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