November 8, 2020
Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us…” ~ Ephesians 5:1
On Tuesday, unless we mailed in our ballots early, many of us voted for our future president, one of our U.S. Senators, our Congressperson for the House of Representatives, and we voted for many state and local officials along with a slew of amendments and propositions. We made many choices.
Many of us may be experiencing some trepidation. May we spend time in prayer with our emotions, and may we ask the Holy Spirit to help us let go of our fear and anxiety so we may walk more in God’s peace and grace.
Think about the choices we make each day and not just on election day.
We can choose life and we can choose death. We can choose to bless someone or curse someone. We can choose to love our neighbors or hate our neighbors. We can choose inclusion, or we can choose exclusion. We can choose to forgive someone, or we can hold a grudge. We can choose to build bridges and relationships, or we can build walls that separate us from one another.
We make choices.
Sister Joan Chittister calls all of us to make an unflinching commitment to act and to live with integrity. She writes, “As a people, we are at a crossover moment. God calls us to be our best, our most serious about what it means to be a follower of Christ as well as a citizen of this world.” Our country has not seen this amount of polarization and national disunity since the 1960s. Can we forgive, heal, and restore one another? What choices will we make? How will walk on this earth?
What should we do? Sister Joan writes, “We must make “Love one another as I have loved you” (see John 13:34) the foundation of national respect, the standard of our national discernment, the bedrock of both our personal relationships and a civilized society.” Each day we choose how we will interact with our children, our parents, our co-workers, our friends, and our enemies. How do we form a more perfect union? How can we agree to disagree and still care for one another?
“Love is the only thing that transforms the human heart,” writes Father Richard Rohr. “Love takes the shape and symbolism of healing and radical forgiveness—which is just about all that Jesus does.” Only love can repair the breach that divides us and quite often the restoration happens one person at a time. Or, as the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, “Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.”
Jesus loved one person at a time. Can we do the same? Will it unite our country? Rohr lifts up Jesus’ interaction with the notorious tax collector Zacchaeus. “Jesus doesn’t belittle or punish Zacchaeus; instead, Jesus goes to his home, shares a meal with him, and treats him like a friend. Zacchaeus’ heart is opened and transformed. Only then does Zacchaeus commit to making amends for the harm he has done.”
Jesus chose to love Zacchaeus and it made all the difference. Love always needs a recipient, so it restores and unites us. What does it mean for us to walk in love? Is love just sentimental or is love also the pain of healing, the exercise necessary to heal a broken body or spirit? A broken nation?
Sister Joan writes, “Our faith is invalid unless we are living it.” Will we walk the walk? Will we forgive, restore, and find common ground? Love is difficult or as Dorothy Day said, “Love is a dreadful thing for God to ask of us.” But our task is to “be imitators of God, as beloved children,” which is to choose to love as Christ loves us.
If we desire to “imitate Christ,” to walk with Jesus, Sister Joan says we say no to xenophobia and crimes against immigrants. We say no to the abuse of women and people of color. We say no to the destruction of our good earth. And “imitators of Christ” say yes. We say yes to equal rights for all. We say yes to alleviating suffering and embracing the different. We say yes to a deep centering in God’s grace.
This past week we voted and made many choices regarding our elected officials. Today and the next, we will decide how we will walk with each other. May we make a commitment to be imitators of Christ and to live in love. May we walk the walk.
Blessings and peace,