Go Home and Love Your Family
As I write this, it is about noon on Wednesday, November 4, 2020. I, like many of you, was awake into the wee hours of the morning, staring at the television and constantly refreshing my interactive electoral college map, testing different scenarios as vote counts rolled in across the country. When I awoke this morning, six states were still too early to call. Both candidates have essentially declared victory, and recounts and litigation to contest election results are already threatened and/or underway. According to USA Today, more than 520 protest events are planned to “protect the results.” It’s safe to say that the vast majority of Americans are not having a good day.
I texted my dad, “Well, this is not turning out like I wanted.”
He responded: “What isn’t? Homeschooling? Running? The blog?”
I laughed and explained I meant the election, of course, but his response was very telling.
Psalm 27, today’s responsorial Psalm, declares, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear? The Lord is my life’s refuge; of whom should I be afraid?” Yet so many of us are living with some degree of fear right now.
What is it that we are afraid of, exactly? The answers, of course, are myriad and widely dependent upon both individual circumstances and political ideologies. The root of most fear we experience in life if we are being honest with ourselves, however, is a fear of suffering. We fear physical and emotional suffering that affects both ourselves and others. And as Catholics, we know that any temporal suffering resulting from bad public policy also has a spiritual component that is both far more dangerous and difficult to quantify.
This fear is an understandable impulse, of course. Jesus, Himself, feared suffering, praying in anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane prior to His crucifixion, His sweat falling like drops of blood (Luke 22:44).
We certainly can take comfort in this empathy. God, Himself, has experienced this same interior turbulence that we seem to be so intimately acquainted with in this very strange year, feelings He could have avoided entirely but instead chose to experience personally because of His desire to share every part of our human existence.
What is more important for us to understand for current purposes, however, is how Jesus responded to this fear. He poured out His heart to the Father, holding nothing back and begging Him to “take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” He then submitted Himself to death on the cross. Simply put, Jesus felt the fear, and then fulfilled the task the Father called Him to do.
Which brings me back to my text with my father. What were the tasks God called me to do today? They certainly didn’t include waking up groggy, cranky from a late bedtime and fitful rest, and then binging political memes on Instagram, punctuated by checking the news for updates every 10 minutes. No, God called me to homeschool my children today, to take care of the body He gave me by going for a run, and to engage in something that gives me great joy: writing about Him on this blog.
These are the things that matter. These are the things that are eternal. And while elections certainly do have consequences (and eternal ones at that), fear or worry over them (or truly any other problem that I will ever face) is most certainly not what I am called to do.
Mother Teresa concluded her 1984 Nobel Prize acceptance speech with these words: “And so, my prayer for you is that truth will bring prayer in our homes, and from the foot of prayer will be that we believe that in the poor it is Christ. And we will really believe, we will begin to love. And we will love naturally, we will try to do something. First in our own home, next door neighbor in the country we live, in the whole world.”
I am called to pray, and I am called to love, beginning first with those in my own home. That is where I will begin to change the whole world – not through my one vote out of 100 million, but primarily through the four people (and one German Shorthaired Pointer) God has entrusted to me in a special way.
Perhaps, like me, you found your inner peace disturbed today. If so, pour out your heart to the Father, and then begin again with the task He has set before you. The Lord is our life’s refuge. Whom then shall we fear?