I Must Do More Than Pray

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I am a religious person but not nearly as spiritual as some that I know. I try to do better and I talk to God all the time but I know that I have much room to grow in my faith. I don’t pretend to be a theologian and I’m hardly a master of the Bible. My little niece, Lorelai, is better versed in the books and chapter and verses than I will ever be. I spent twelve years taking religion classes in Catholic schools and I picked up the essence the teachings of Jesus over time. Somehow I have always thought that His message was profound but simple. To me it has always been summarized in His commandment that we love our neighbors as we love ourselves. This should not be that difficult to do and yet all of us stray from that dictum over and over again.

Jesus also told us to judge not lest we be judged and yet it as always seemed to me that those of us who are Christians are often the very first to to shake our heads in judgement whenever we witness behaviors that we disapprove. It is so difficult to set aside the haughtiness of self righteousness, a sin of which I am particularly guilty even as I write these words. I suppose that Jesus understood quite well the frailties that we humans possess and so he attempted to teach us about the things that we were most likely to do wrong.

I have been asking Jesus to help us all these days. My heart is heavy with grief and anger over the plight of Black Americans in an era when we should be well beyond the injustices of the past. I’ve been overly judgmental of family members, friends, and strangers who can’t seem to understand what is happening in the Black Lives Matter movement. I am livid about our president and his tone deaf response to what is happening. I do not understand why he thinks the way he does, nor why he cannot see how divisive his comments are. I tell myself that it is not up to me to judge him or anyone else. That should be God’s work and only God will ever really know what to make of his heart. Still I think that as a Catholic Christian I have a right to speak out when I disagree with him.

A church building is sacred to me. It has always been a place of refuge and peace. I do not take lightly the power of community and love that it represents and so it is with the Bible, a book that I know I should read more often. We swear to tell the truth on the Bible. We seek direction for our lives in the Bible. We hear about the life of Jesus in the Bible and hopefully we model on lives on His example as described in the Bible. For that reason I do not think that either a church building or the Bible should be treated without great reverence and respect.

I did not agree with President Trump’s bravado in speaking with the nation’s governors earlier this week. I felt that his use of words and invoking of military terminology as a means of controlling the violence and looting associated with the protests was like throwing gasoline on a fire. There are ways of preventing and controlling illegal actions without resoring to extreme measures. I would rather have heard him taking the time to show more compassion for those who are angry. I would like to see him attempting to listen and understand rather than talk and command. There is no weakness in averting chaos with understanding and love. It is possible to be a guide toward good, a model leader of character and concern and that is what I hoped he would be. We need to hear him providing concrete ideas for eliminating discrimination. 

I have prayed because I do not have all the answers. I have prayed because maybe I am wrong but my heart tells me that berating governors and bragging about dire consequences for those who do not tow the line is abusive. People might fall in line for someone who threatens them with punishment but such harshness will only intensify their feelings. We do not need a nation that silently bears grievances only because it fears to suffer the ire of the very person who should be helping to make us feel safe and honored as people. 

I did not like that a peaceful crowd in front of the White House was cleared with tear gas just so the President could strut across the street to a church that he has never once attended and hold up a Bible for a photo opportunity after he had just humiliated our governors and threatened the protestors with grave repercussions. If it was not a travesty it was at least a moment of embarrassingly bad taste. It certainly dashed any hopes that I might have had for the show of healing and human kindness that I believe our nation desperately needs.

I keep praying to Jesus. I feel his love and comfort and I thank Him for the blessings that  have filled my life. Still I implore Him to help us. I ask Him to show me what I must do for surely my thoughts and prayers are not enough. I will continue to blog. I will cast votes in November. I will work for what I feel to be right. I will ask Jesus to bring peace and justice to our country.