Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Morning After

"My beloved, obedient as you have always been, not only when I am present but all the more now when I am absent, work out your salvation with fear and trembling. For God is the one who, for his good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work. Do everything without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine like lights in the world, as you hold on to the word of life, so that my boast for the day of Christ may be that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. But, even if I am poured out as a libation upon the sacrificial service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with all of you. In the same way you also should rejoice and share your joy with me."  (Letter to the Philippians 2:12-18)

From the time that I was qualified to vote up to the present, some 50+ years, I have faithfully and reasonably, to the extent I've been able, exercised my right to vote on the leadership and issues of our country, nationally and locally. Increasingly since the debacle of the 2000 national elections, I've grown more and more uncomfortable and disturbed by what I see happening. Let me make it clear: what I write here is my own viewpoint and perception. I don't share it with any expectation of anyone necessarily agreeing with me.

This reflection came to me this morning as I was praying over the above text in light of the election results. I'm at the point, on this morning after the elections, where I recognize that the United States is continuing a longstanding process of serious decline. In my humble opinion, the political system in this country is pervasively dysfunctional and broken, and our three branches of government are drifting further and further from the ideals, such as they were, of the founding fathers. Additionally, it's more obvious than ever that a government "of the people, by the people and for the people" has been quietly and rapidly taken captive by Corporate America: Big Oil, Big Pharm, Big Ag, Big Business.

So what is one who is devoted to God's "good purpose" to do? Notice, I don't use the word "Christian" because that has become an almost meaningless term, a sort of hypocritical tag which a lot of principle-less people, particularly politicians, adopt, unfortunately bearing little resemblance to those who genuinely espouse the teachings of Jesus the Christ. Paul uses the word "obedient", a rich word from the Latin ob + audire = to really listen and hear. He says that with that gift you and I are to "work out your salvation with fear and trembling", recognizing that it's God in Christ who "for his good purpose" is at work in us "both to desire and to work". If I genuinely "hold on to the word of life", I know that I can't "do life" or anything else by my own ingenuity or skill. It's all about God in Christ who's responsible for the initiative and the carrying out of any human enterprise.

Paul suggests that, "in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation", "without grumbling or questioning", we continue to hold onto the Word, and his word, of life, who expressed himself, and calls us to express ourselves, in love for one another: letting our whole selves be "poured out as a libation" to support and encourage the faithful service and sacrifice of others, to rejoice and to share joy and hope and mercy and forgiveness whenever and wherever it's needed. That is so foreign to the current culture of this country, especially the political culture, as to be simply laughable to many.

Well, we shall see. We cannot know God's "good purpose"…yet. We undoubtedly couldn't handle knowing it! Right now our task is to "run" and "labor" and "shine like lights in the world", beacons of hope. Paul suggests that it won't be in vain!  

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Fr. Harry!

I grew up in a Wisconsin which led the nation in its progressive policies—major abolitionists, powerful labor concerns, fine conscientious objector tradition, people-oriented government, strong Socialist mayor of Milwaukee, etc., etc.

And I am now back in Wisconsin with perhaps the most anti-populist, pro-corporate governor in the country, some of the most horrendous anti-voting laws, anti-union policies, and anti-poor health provisions. And I shake my head in unbelief when watch these pitifully ignorant, blind-sided, people actually voting AGAINST THEIR OWN WELL-BEING because of the power of pro-corporate, pro-phrma, pro-management money. And even the Supreme Court has backed the corporations!

It breaks my heart to watch this nation slide into autocracy and despotism and plutocracy with the big money controlling the rudder.

It is truly to weep.....

John-Julian, OJN