I’m disconcerted with newscasts covering our current elections. We see such unbridled malice directed at elected politicians who have tried to steer our country through the unprecedented hardships of a global pandemic. I am dismayed at how people place their energy into what appears to be violent anger—growing into a hysteria of unkindness aimed at anyone who differs from them in opinion or appearance.
The gospel readings this Sunday directly address this human behaviour. In Matthew, we hear the story of the fellow who owes a large sum of money to his creditor. Not having the funds he owes, he begs for accommodation—time to pay back, deferral of punishment—anything! The manager feels sorry for the defaulter, sees his plight, and cancels the debt.
Imagine. In this country, when the pandemic struck, tax payment was deferred, some of us received payments to help us through income loss . . .
Well, we know what happens in the parable: instead of being grateful for the compassion he received, the debt dodger violently punishes a man unable to repay money owed to him. The injustice is blatant. Despite the passage of 2 millennia, we feel indignation at such a portrait of flagrant entitlement. And human nature remains the same. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians also appeals to our sense of fairness, justice, and compassion. Paul’s readers begrudge the income owed to their spiritual leaders. They begrudge others having what they themselves have to live comfortably. Both readings speak to human impulses and freedom of choice. We have in us a basic instinct towards greed, selfishness, self-interest. Also, we have the freedom to rise above our base impulses to choose justice, compassion, kindness. Through Christ we can choose goodness; we can choose to treat others as we ourselves would want to be treated.
Our freedom to see the transfigured world is not a whimsical idea for Sundays only. It is a serious life choice that can be unpopular and feel uncomfortable. However, the more we walk the path, the easier it becomes. Walking in the steps of Christ we join untold numbers of others on a road of constant discovery, fresh relationships, and creative forces.
On Sept 20th we’ll be electing MPs to represent us in parliament. On what do we base our decisions? Whomever we choose, there are questions to ask ourselves before we check the ballot box: Does community welfare outweigh individual desire? Are taxes vilified? It is only through taxes that we can have healthcare for everyone.
Pope Francis has asked all Catholics to dedicate September as a month of prayer for us to make choices “that promote a simple and sustainable lifestyle.” He sees this not only as how we treat our environment, but more fundamentally about the choices we make in all aspects of our life. In his appeal he speaks of young people who “have the courage to undertake projects for environmental and social improvement, since the two go together.” Pope Francis’s reflections can guide us in our vote later this month.
–Are we choosing a candidate who will support and enhance our public health care system? Are they protecting our elderly (Long Term care) and our children (childcare).
–Is our vote going to someone who will help address the social inequities which have been so clearly manifested during this pandemic?
–Pope Francis says: “Our degradation of the natural world is (…) already undermining the well-being of 3.2 billion people—or 40 percent of humanity.” Will our vote be respectful of the environment or ignore the dire global situation and continue what he refers to as “ravaging the very ecosystems that underpin our societies.”
Often our politicians are successful because they appeal to our particular desires as individuals; our faith teaches us that we are members of God’s family and our choices must reflect our common good and the good of God’s creation.
“Each Christian man and woman, every member of the human family, can act as a thin yet unique and indispensable thread in weaving a network of life that embraces everyone. May we feel challenged to assume with prayer and commitment, our responsibility for the care of creation. May God, ‘the lover of life’ (Wisdom 11:26), grant us the courage do good without waiting for someone else to begin, or until it is too late.” Pope Francis
Quotes from Pope Francis taken from “Pope highlights ‘sustainable lifestyle’ in prayer intention for September” Sept. 2, 2021 La Croix International