Monday, October 1, 2012

Cast Your Whole Ballot

26 Sunday B   #137

Nm 11, 25-29
Ps 19
Jas 5, 1-6
Mk 9, 38-43. 45. 47-48

September 30, 2012
Peter Maurin Farm
Marlboro, N.Y.

Deacon Tom Cornell

                   Imagine this passage from the Letter of Saint James being read aloud at a recent national political convention.  I won’t say which one.  We just heard the words, God’s words.  They’re important.  So let’s hear them again and take careful heed:

                   “Come now, you rich, weep and wail over your impending miseries.  Your wealth has rotted away, your clothes have become moth-eaten, your gold and silver have corroded and that corrosion will be a testimony against you, it will devour your flesh like fire…. Behold, the wages you have withheld from the workers who harvested your fields are crying aloud and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.  You have lived on the earth in luxury and pleasure and you have fattened your hearts for the day of slaughter.”

                   Word as harsh as these might well have been directed at the other party convention too, I won’t say which one, words of condemnation for the crime that cries to heaven for vengeance, the slaughter of the innocent yet-to-be-born.  The legal right to abortion at any stage of gestation or even birth for any reason whatsoever is now part of that party’s orthodoxy.  How long will the hand of God’s justice be stayed?  "God is not mocked."  (Gal 6, 7)  “Vengeance is mine,” says the Lord, “I will repay!”  (Deut 32,35;  Rom 12, 19)

                   The president from one party declares that anything the president does is by that very fact legal.  The president from the other party acts upon that and authorizes assassination by drone missile, targeted assassination of individuals he chooses to designate enemy combatants without any judicial process, appeal, oversight or review, and ten or more innocent women, children and other by-standers die as “collateral damage.”  Obscene!  And some people wonder why they hate us. 

                   Our bishops have given us guidelines, guidance, not in how to vote, but in how to weigh the candidates and party platforms.  It is not their place or mine or anyone else's to tell you how to vote.  But we who are ordained to teach the faithful the principles of social justice based on Scripture and natural law have it laid upon us to do just that.  The bottom-line is this: how will your choice affect the most vulnerable in our society?

          Catholic social teaching holds that all citizens have the right to participate in the political life of their communities and nations, that is, among other things, to vote.  The right to participate entails the responsibility to participate.  Any who fail to exercise that right endanger the right of others to do so.  Catholics make a better showing at the polls than our fellow citizens.  We make up 20% of the population but 27% of the voting public.  There was a time when we tended to vote as a bloc, for the New Deal, for instance, up to 80 percent!  But we are not beholden to any party, nor should we ever be!  And voting is not the only way we participate in public life. 

                   Here we are about five weeks from Election Day.  I confess to you, I haven’t made up my mind yet, whom to vote for or even whether to go to the polls at all, the choices are so bad.  Choosing the lesser of two evils is choosing an evil, after all.  Maybe a third party.  But they’re all compromised.  Then again….

          I am consoled by the words of a great American once scorned but now seen as a national treasure, Henry David Thoreau.  “Cast your whole vote, not just a piece of paper.”  If we live the life that Jesus taught us to live, a life centered on the works of mercy, we cast our whole vote every day of our lives.

                   God be with you and God be with us all on November 6, a day of tears for the poor, the aged, the sick and the unborn.  God forgive us!