Elections and Widow’s Mites

Scripture often speaks to us in irony.

For instance in the readings today we are presented with two widows; on the widow in Zarapeth who heeds the call of the Prophet Elijah, and the widow at the Temple who tosses her two small coins into the collection. Widows were often quite poor in Biblical days, and usually resorted to begging in their poverty.

Yet here they are shown to be magnanimous sources of generosity in response to God’s call. This shows forth also in the generosity of Jesus Christ, who gave and continues to give of himself for our sanctification.

The elections this week certainly give us something to think about. In a country which is very divided, and increasingly polarized, how do we live as Christians when we often do not even agree with one another? While many disagreed on the choice of a Presidential candidate, many Catholics also disagree with core teachings of the Church and the role of Church hierarchy. And so builds even amongst the Faithful.

This week, many of us sought to change the ways we live through our elective process. Instead, God gave us the cross and the gift of faith. For the 50% who are happy over the outcome of the election, the cross is to justify a government’s growing interference in religion. Indeed, most pro-abortion arguments are decidedly unscientific, and become a sort of religion on their own, relying on emotional arguments and being promoted by the state as absolute and universal rights. For the 50% who are unhappy over the outcome, the cross is a growing certainty that the times ahead will be difficult in several ways.

But, as Catholics, and as persons of Faith, our battle is not for power, but for seeking the mind and heart of Christ and teaching others to do the same. It’s provident we have a year of faith. We need to move hearts through our prayers and actions. It is difficult, and it is the way Jesus did it.

Like the widows in today’s Scriptures, we need to act out of love and generosity for our Lord, and our neighbor, and let fears and resentments subside. Christian charity starts in the heart, and our faith remains always in Jesus Christ our Lord.

A Pre-Election Thought

At long last we come to a pivotal event in our nation’s history; Election Day 2012.

Looking at the Ballot online, there are as usual a slew of amendments; amongst them is the proposed Amendment to the Louisiana Constitution about the Right to Bear Arms? This takes me back to the Bill of Rights, and wondering how this has become an issue in our state Constitution. But it has… and I’m thankful that I took the few seconds necessary to look up the Ballot ahead of time.

Recently I found these “Rules for Civil Dialogue” on the US Bishop’s website. They offer some charitable advice on conducting political discourse, which is entirely in line with St. Paul’s advice to the Corinthians in Chapter 13 of his famous first letter to them.

“Guidelines for Political Discourse

1. Make sure everyone has an opportunity to speak.

2. Share your personal experience, not someone else’s.

3. Listen carefully and respectfully. Speak carefully and respectfully. Do not play the role of know-it-all, convincer or corrector. Remember that a dialogue is not a debate.

4. Don’t interrupt unless for clarification or time keeping.

5. Accept that no group or viewpoint has a complete monopoly on the truth.

6. “Be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another’s statement than condemn it” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2478, quoting St. Ignatius of Loyola).

7. Be cautious about assigning motives to another person.”

I like these guidelines except for one thing: regarding #5, the Catholic Church does hold within it the fullness of the truth.

Monday night and Tuesday morning we are hosting Eucharistic Adoration for those willing to make an extra commitment to prayer, and to offer a Sacrifice of Praise to our God as millions prepare to vote.

My prayer for our Parish is that we seek to fulfill the wishes of Jesus Christ, who is Lord in our lives. I pray that he may guard our election and hold his own to Himself. May the holy angels surround us, and guard us in all of our ways.


"The Bread of Life"

the bread of lifeIt’s easy to sense the growing exasperation in the Gospel as Jesus tries to teach the crowds about the Bread of life.

The crowds were exasperated by the mere thought of Jesus giving us his flesh and blood for food. Jesus is probably exasperated with their lack of understanding. however, being the model of patience and virtue that he understandably is, he continues on with his instruction, all the while knowing the rejection and confusion that will ensue.

Indeed, how many people alive today still reject Jesus’ teaching on the Eucharist? Studies show that around 57% of Catholics actually believe in the real presnce of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.

While it’s understandable that belief in the real presence occasions a struggle within the intellect, we eventually come to the point where we either believe Jesus Christ, or we do not. Is he Lord? Or is he not Lord? Is he really and truly present? Or did he lie?

The earliest testimonies that exist, from the Scriptures themselves, to the accounts of the first Christian communities, down through time to us, all attest to a lively faith in the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.

Ancient Bread of Life Mosaic

As St. Iraneus of Lyons wrote: “[Christ] has declared the cup, a part of creation, to be his own Blood, from which he causes our blood to flow; and the bread, a part of creation, he has established as his own Body, from which he gives increase to our bodies.”

Times have changed and the modern world is closer knit; but ancient wisdoms do not change. And God remains the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Jesus speaks to our hearts in today’s Gospel, his words finding purchase in Faith filled souls.

“Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat of the flesh of the son of Man and drink of his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.”

The Rev. Kenneth Allen