The Public Side of Faith

In our Gospel this week we are reminded of the Great Commandments of Jesus. When he is tested and asked which of all the commandments and laws given by God to his Chosen People are the most important, Jesus responds, “The first is this: 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.The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” (NAB)

Jesus is reminding us that we have a relationship with God that is lived out in our relationships with others. Our personal relationship with Jesus Christ is effected and revealed in relationships with family members, friends, coworkers, school mates, and strangers. We serve Christ in each other, and so one of our greatest responsibilities is to ensure the well-being of our brothers and sisters, and to ensure that we, as individuals and as a society, are always working toward the common good. The common good is based in truth and love; it is based on authentic Christian dignity and respect. We, as Catholics, not only have the responsibility to pursue holiness, but we also have the responsibility and obligation to participate in society to ensure that others may also lead holy lives. We are called to constantly inform our consciences as we seek a greater understanding of the truth, and we are to publicly live out the teachings of Christ given to us through his Most Holy Church.

This week, we have a very real and public opportunity to impart to society what our faith teaches us that is true and good. This is election week. The Catechism of the Catholic Church clearly teaches us: “It is the duty of citizens to contribute along with the civil authorities to the good of society in a spirit of truth, justice, solidarity, and freedom. The love and service of one’s country follow from the duty of gratitude and belong to the order of charity. … Service of the common good requires citizens to fulfill their roles in the life of the political community. [Our] co-responsibility for the common good make it morally obligatory to pay taxes, to exercise the right to vote, and to defend one’s country….” (CCC 2239-2240, emphasis added)

Sadly, this opportunity is not available to all in our world, but it is to us. The Catechism is crystal clear on our duty as Christians, as defenders of love, defenders of life, and defenders of truth and justice. We are called to love God first, with everything that we are and everything we have, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Let’s not neglect them this week. Let’s fulfill our obligations of love by working toward the common good in our society, by making authentically Catholic Christian choices that impact our community to bring about the Truth and Love we profess. Let’s make choices of solidarity and unity, not hatred and divisiveness for their mere sake. May God give us wisdom in our choices, and may our choices bring blessings upon the incredible country we call home. Amen.

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