November 13, 2022 - Pastor Message12/10/2023
“The disciples approached Jesus privately and said, ‘Tell us, when will this happen, and what sign will there be of your coming and of the end of the age?’ Jesus said to them in reply, ‘See that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and they will deceive many. You will hear of wars and reports of wars; see that you are not alarmed, for these things must happen, but it will not yet be the end” (Matthew 24:3-6).
This time of the year, the Church always gives us readings at Mass that prompt us to reflect on the end of time. This year, many people and organizations in the secular world have echoed this dire warning, particularly around the election. Prior to the election, both sides of the political divide assured us that a vote for the other side was a vote to destroy our country and possibly even the whole world.
Well, the election has come and gone. I am writing this column beforehand, so I do not know who won, but, if you’re reading this column in the bulletin on Saturday or Sunday, that means that, regardless of who won, America has not been destroyed and the world continues to turn. The prophecies of doom from both sides have once again proven false, just as they have after every national election, at least as far back as I can remember. There may be isolated pockets of violence and unrest around the country, for which there is absolutely no excuse, but, my guess is that, by and large, most Americans this weekend are going about their daily lives in relative peace just as they did the weekend before the election, but without the aggravation of all those pesky political ads!
What can we learn from this? First, don’t believe the hype. Few political candidates are ever as super, nor political opponents ever as diabolical, as political campaigns make them out to be. They are simply flawed human beings, just like you and me, who sometimes succeed and sometimes fail, who sometimes do what we want and sometimes don’t, but who do not have the power to save the world or destroy it. There is only one Messiah and only one Satan, and I have yet to see them appear on any ballot.
Second, the United States is an incredibly tough and resilient country, capable of surviving even the worst political catastrophes. Our nation was born in revolution, in which we overthrew the strongest military power in the world, and then survived the invasion and the burning of our nation’s capital in another war only 30 years later. We survived a civil war in which over half a million Americans died but which began the long road to equality for Americans of all races. We survived economic recessions and depressions, epidemics, world wars, political scandals, and even nuclear standoffs. Our country has survived everything that history has ever thrown at us, and, now, it has survived the election of 2022. I have no doubt we will continue to survive going forward under whoever sits in office after this election.
Finally, at the end of the day, politics is really only a very small part of our lives. I know that the constant media coverage and seemingly endless attempts to make everything political, including entertainment and sports, make it seem like politics is bigger and more important than it is, but really only a very small segment of the population gets caught up in all of that. Most Americans, while faithfully carrying out their civic duties, have far more important things going on, like their family and friends, their job, paying their bills, enjoying recreational activities, and, most importantly, working out their eternal salvation and that of those they love. Looking at politics within that much larger frame helps keep it in perspective and helps keep us focused on the things that really matter, especially the kingdom beyond all politics, the kingdom of God. That is where our ultimate allegiance lies as Catholic Americans; that is our ultimate goal. And regardless of who won the recent election, that kingdom will come according to God’s plan, not according to any political agenda human beings may have. So relax. Maybe your preferred candidates won, maybe they didn’t, but the world continues on, and so does God’s plan for the coming of his kingdom. Let us prepare for that day and stop worrying about false prophecies of gloom and doom from the much less important world of politics.
Fr. Marc Stockton