Rev. Mark Miller, C.PP.S. Pastor of Catholic Churches of Pettis County
December 6, 2013
It has been said that one should never discuss politics or religion with family because it will eventually lead to divisive arguments and destroy the harmony that is meant to exist within families. However, when one thinks about all the influences that affect our lives, there is nothing more influential than politics and religion.
The question is: are they two different entities or are they the two sides of the same coin? Did not Jesus say, “Render to Caesar that which belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God?” The question which evoked this response had to do with taxes. And yet, from the earliest days, Judaism, Christianity and Islam have concerned themselves with how money does or does not contribute to economic justice and a healthy spiritual life. All of these faiths work toward an ideal of increased fairness, opportunity and equality among humankind, and each of them points toward organized financial systems as one crucial way to get there.
For some: abortion, euthanasia and the death penalty belong only in the political realm, whereas others see these issues as life issues and therefore belong in the theological realm. In Psalm 24 we read: “the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.”
There are some who believe that all the issues of ecology: drinkable water, healthy air, organic foods, climate control, etc., are issues of politics, but did not God place the first “humans” in charge of all this and gave the command of being good stewards of all that God has made? (Genesis 1:26-30) How do we interpret the passage from the Letter to the Romans where Paul says, “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.”
We know the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:19-23) The struggle today seems to be holding on to what we believe about God and creation, and yet being tolerant of those who have other beliefs. However, we do no one justice by denying our most fundamental beliefs in hopes that we can be tolerate of others. To tolerate others at the expense of our own integrity leaves all of us on the losing side.
Theology has a place within our political world because our political world does not have the resources necessary on which to justify itself. The founders of our nation understood this principle but does our nation have the will to reclaim that belief? This isn’t a matter of imposing a particular theology on others. It is respecting the Author of all creation and understanding what it means to be a “good and faithful servant” to what we have received. The way we use and share resources can bring us closer to each other and to our faith, or drive us apart. The choice we make determines our individual future as well as the future of our nation. As we enter the Advent Season, may the Light of lights illumine our minds and hearts so that we might illumine the darkness of our world.