Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!

Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost
18 September A.D. 2011


“Be not deceived; God is not mocked;
for what things a man shall sow, these also shall he reap.”[1]

    We are entering into that time of the year when a great deal will be said about politics and the routine of electing new officials at the various levels of government.  We are already seeing “straw polls” and debates on the television, and next summer the State will hold a primary and then, in the fall, a general election.  I urge you to be informed about such things, and caution you that Florida is a “closed primary” state—that is to say that you must be registered as a member of the party if you wish to vote in that party’s primary election.

    In one sense, the Church has nothing to say about politics.  Temporal governments operated for thousands of years before Almighty God founded His Church; even before He made the Old Covenant with Abraham.  It is up to those who have a stake in worldly affairs to determine what form of government and what sort of economic policies best suit their needs.  Our Lord Himself, and great saints like Saint Paul and Saint Thomas Aquinas, recognized the legitimacy of governments formed without the direct supervision of the Church.

    But in another sense, the Church makes an important contribution to the political process by speaking to the moral issues that may be influenced by civil governments.  Saint Thomas tells us that civil governments are more—or less—legitimate, insofar as they reflect and facilitate God's natural law.  That is to say that a government is good to the degree that it enables its citizens to live according to the Commandments.  The Commandments, as we know, simply reflect the way in which men and women will best relate to one another and to their Creator.  Where this goes unrecognized by government, the rights of the citizens will be infringed to some degree.  (And, obviously, there are degrees of this infringement.)

    We ought to bear in mind that the Commandments represent a “Law”;  one that we are required to obey;  and one that we are required to see that our government obeys, at least to the extent of each citizen's influence.  This means that, throughout the year, and particularly as election time approaches, we have a responsibility to know what our elected representatives are up to, to vote against those who oppose God's law, and support those who uphold it.  We have a responsibility to know something about the issues facing government, the positions of candidates and office holders, and to make well-reasoned political decisions.  We are responsible for the world in which we live.

The saintly Pope Leo XIII wrote:

Legislation is the work of men invested with power, and who, in fact, govern the nation; therefore it follows that, practically, the quality of the laws depends more upon the quality of these men than upon the power. The laws will be good or bad accordingly as the minds of the legislators are imbued with good or bad principles, and as they allow themselves to be guided by political prudence or by passion.[2]

It is essential that we elect good people to public office

    Saint Paul tells us today, that, “what things a man shall sow, these also shall he reap.”  We should apply this to our responsibility in public affairs, but also in our own private day to day behavior.  Unfortunately, though, many of us have all but stopped trying to discern good from evil.  We might say that we have lost what, years ago, was called the “horror of sin.”  Altogether too many modern people have been conditioned to think that sin is something funny, something clever, perhaps even something to be imitated.  Pick up any modern novel, see a movie, turn on the TV, or read a newspaper; and you will see the ugliness of sin glorified as though it were something noble.

    Instead of having a natural repugnance for such sins, modern man has been conditioned to view theft as prudence, to equate adultery with good health, to hold violence in esteem, to honor atheism and idolatry as just “another point of view.”  All too often we chuckle when someone tells a “dirty joke,” or loudly misuses the name of God, or says something to disparage the family or the holiness of marriage.  We seem to admire the criminal and the politician who “get away with something,” especially if the "something" is really big.

    Saint Paul is calling on us today to recognize that sin is corruption;  that it “stinks” like something rotting;  that it takes a man who is whole and entire, and subjects a part of him to decay and decomposition;  that it takes a soul that is beautiful and turns it into something that is ugly and putrid and detestable.

    He calls upon us to recognize the ugliness of sin in ourselves, and also to point it out to our neighbors, especially our fellow Christians    not by way of judgment, but by way of fraternal correction.  “Instruct such a one in the spirit of meekness,” he tells us.  We might think of this as trying to keep the souls of our neighbors beautiful and pleasing to God, not as having a good laugh over their ugly appearance.  A loving mother might tell her son to go and change his dirty shirt, but she won't make use of his poor appearance as an excuse to hurt him, or as an opportunity to make herself feel superior.  The same is true of fraternal correction—we might admonish sinners not to sin, but we must never glory by comparing ourselves to them; let alone rejoice in the possibility that they will suffer God's punishment.

    “While we have time, let us work good to all men....”  That means in all of our affairs, both public and private, both secular and religious.  For “God is not mocked” —we are responsible for what we do, and for what those around us do—particularly, Saint Paul tells us, if they “are of the household of the faith.”

    As we approach the election next year, let us keep firmly in mind that in a republic such as ours, we are responsible for what our nation does.  Ultimately, we are the ones who make the nation’s policies—we can’t blame them on “the king” or on “the dictator”—it is we who are responsible.

“Be not deceived; God is not mocked;
for what things a man shall sow, these also shall he reap.”


[1]   Epistle: Galatians v: 25-26, vi: 1-10

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