Gospel Values in an Election Year

The election for President monopolizes the news. Before you can pass go and collect $200, you must hear about one more campaign tidbit from yet another expert. Today’s scripture reading from Mark 12:28-34 brings a Christian perspective to bear on election politics.
The young scribe, not nearly as hostile toward Jesus as the other religious leaders who have sought to trap him, approaches Jesus much in the manner of the rich young man. Jesus readily answers his question by combining the Shema from Deuteronomy and Leviticus 19:9 where the author clearly speaks of love of one’s neighbor in terms on nonexploitation of the neighbor.
We live in a complex world where simple answers to complex questions lead us astray. From its earliest days, the Church as the People of God has been called to speak Gospel truth to power. Today Jesus spoke truth to a teacher of the Law—the Torah, the ultimate word of God to the Hebrew people. The law, when you come down to it, is really quite simple—love God with your whole being and love your neighbor.
What’s this got to do with elections? Everything! In On your Mark, Megan McKenna explains the passage. (I highly recommend this insightful commentary on Mark’s Gospel.) Jesus clearly states that what we do for others is an indication of our love for God. What we do unto the least among us we do unto God. Jesus said that the teacher of the Law was close to the Kindom. Are we just close to the Kindom are we living in the fullness of the Kindom? Will the teacher of the Law take the next step? Or, more importantly, will we take the next step? McKenna says:
We live in a culture, a country and an age that glorifies selfishness, self-sufficiency, greed and security. Every election year we ask if WE are better off than we were four years before, but the question we should ask is if THE POOR ARE BETTER OFF THAN THEY WERE FOUR YEARS AGO. Then, are fewer prisons being built and filled? Are there fewer executions? Is all of life being respected? Will the unborn, the youngest in the most need of medical care, nutrition, and safety and the most vulnerable get basic health care, education and support? Will women, especially women of childbearing age and mothers, get what they need, as well as the elderly? Will our decisions be based on the common good rule rather than the rule of the wealthy and the powerful? Will working people receive a living wage this year? Will we remember that we live in a world larger than the United States and that what is good for us is not necessarily good for the rest of the world? Will there be fewer guns and a lessening of violence? Will military budgets be cut [52% of our federal budget goes to defense, over $750,000,000 this fiscal year]? Will whole cities still be bombed? Will we make this step closer to Jesus in belief and practice?
MCKenna reminds us that failure to live by Gospel values hurts our neighbors. Children and adults die in this country from preventable illnesses because they lack adequate health care. Bloated military budgets for Cold War technology produced by bloated defense contractors takes food out of the mouths of the least among us. The conversion of corn to gasohol to support our lifestyle takes food out of the mouths of the least among us. We are waging a “war for democracy” in Iraq and we refuse to provide adequate shelter, food, clothing and medical care for our people here at home. We are now imprisoning (not detaining and deporting) undocumented workers we have lured here to provide cheap labor to produce our food and build our buildings. We must seek a return to Gospel values this election year.
Seventeen Catholic organizations are hosting a Convention for the Common Good in Philadelphia this July. I am really impressed with the platform that has been developed from grassroots, small group meetings throughout the country. In this election year, I encourage you to read the draft and provide input. I will forward the email which contains the Proposed Platform to all those on my mailing list. If you want a copy forwarded to you, please email josephm382@windstream.net
In closing the Deuteronomist said, “Let there be no poor among you.”

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