A cynic might give thanks that, with all the turmoil we’re experiencing in 2020, a pandemic has kept us from gathering. Can you imagine big family dinners amid this social unrest?
On top of the ever-deepening divisions in our politics, we are also deeply divided by at least two other life-changing issues — COVID-19 and racial justice.
This trio of issues — and their accompanying baggage — have converged in 2020 into a storm wreaking havoc on the relationships of families and friends.
Ad hominem comments — that attack the person rather than responding to an issue or argument — are all too common, even on The Record’s social media.
And anyone seems to be fair game for vitriol. From public leaders to private individuals, anyone who takes a position or expresses an opinion can become the target of an attack from their peers, friends and family members.
These attacks are mean and they’re dividing families and ruining friendships.
They’re also distracting us from the issues.
The issues themselves demand serious attention from us as Christians.
In the realm of politics, we are called to be faithful citizens with well-formed consciences.
On the subject of the pandemic, we are called to care for one another, protecting the common good.
And on the subject of racial justice, we are called to take personal responsibility for rejecting the sin of racism within our own hearts.
Of course, each of us individually has different visions about how to respond to these callings. The important first step is to respond — rooted in our faith and with prayer.
Last week, Pope Francis, speaking on charity, reminded the faithful to stay focused on Jesus Christ.
“Christian charity is not simple philanthropy but, on the one hand, it is looking at others through the eyes of Jesus himself and, on the other hand, seeing Jesus in the face of the poor,” he said in his Aug. 23 Angelus. He continued, “it is necessary that works of solidarity, the works of charity that we carry out, not divert us from contact with the Lord Jesus.”
That is true in all our endeavors. As Christians, we can’t let our politics, our pandemic response or our activism divert our gaze from Jesus Christ. Rather, these things must flow from our relationship with him and through him.
If we do, instead of cynicism or meanness or vitriol, we will have light, we will have love, we will have a hope of finding truth, peace and solutions.
So, let’s not be thankful we can avoid family get-togethers for now. Let’s change our way of approaching the conversation at the dinner table — and on social media — from one focused on convincing to one focused on honest dialogue with the help of our Lord. When we can finally gather again, we’ll be ready and glad.
O God, who cause the minds of the faithful to unite in a single purpose, grant your people to love what you command and to desire what you promise, that, amid the uncertainties of this world, our hearts may be fixed on that place where true gladness is found.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.