Tag Archives: politics

Does God Get Your Vote?


Elections are going on today in the USA and  so how should people of faith engage in politics? The Book of Samuel tells us about politics in ancient Israel. “Appoint a king over us, as other nations have, to judge us,” the elders of Israel say to Samuel at Ramah. “We too must be like all the nations, with a king to rule us, lead us in warfare, and fight our battles.”

The Prophet Samuel is a reluctant king maker, however. He’s wary about kings and recognizes the dark side of political power.

“He will take your best fields, vineyards, and olive groves, and give them to his servants. He will tithe your crops and grape harvests to give to his officials and his servants. He will take your male and female slaves, as well as your best oxen and donkeys, and use them to do his work. He will also tithe your flocks. As for you, you will become his slaves.”

I suppose the advice we could take from this is: Don’t let people who govern have too much power. In a democratic society like ours that means being a well-informed and engaged citizen.  Know what’s going on and vote. It’s our duty as well as our right. As we go to cast a ballot–and how many will?– what about the common good? The good God wants?

There’s another piece of advice we can also hear in the Book of Samuel.  God complains to the prophet that the peoples’ demand for a king rejects God’s kingship. Some today might agree that politics is just for us humans; God has nothing to do with it.

But is God beyond the messy political world and has nothing to do with it?   Is it all about public opinion and counting heads? Or do we have to ask for God’s help with the way our world is run? The worse thing we can do is leave God out of it.

O God, come to our assistance. O Lord, make haste to help us.

Speak, Lord, Your Servants are Listening

In times like this we should listen to the voice of the mystics in our church. They speak in troubled times.

Among the mystics I count the writers of scripture, Luke and Paul, who speak in our readings at Mass these days and see things from a higher perspective than we do. Be careful of human wisdom, Paul says today to the Corinthians enmeshed in the politics and personalities of their church:

“So let no one boast about human beings, for everything belongs to you,
Paul or Apollos or Cephas,
or the world or life or death,
or the present or the future:
all belong to you, and you to Christ, and Christ to God.”

Luke’s gospel today (Luke 5, 1-11) describes the fishermen on the lake, Cephas among them, who have come from fishing all night and caught nothing. The One from Nazareth, no fisherman at all, tells them to cast their nets for a catch.

Wisely, they defer to him and their human wisdom is replaced by the power of God.

I think too of Bridget of Sweden and Catherine of Siena, mystics of their day, whose vivid perception of the powerful presence of God in their meditations and prayers reminded the leaders and people of their church to listen to their Lord.

Prayer and listening to God’s word are not small gestures today. We’re like the Corinthians and the fishermen by the lake. We need to listen to the Lord who speaks to us. We get so caught up in the wisdom of the day.

Praying for Politicians

Maybe the Book of Judges, our Old Testament reading at today’s Mass, can offer some perspective on the election process going on in our country now.

The Book of Judges describes the period in Jewish history from the death of Joshua, who led the Israelites in their conquest of the promised land of Canaan, till the installation of Saul as Israel’s first king by the prophet Samuel. During that time, the Israelites were spread out in various parts of Canaan and were led by local leaders, “judges”, a Hebrew word that doesn’t mean people who preside in courts, but ordinary leaders like mayors or city managers or local chiefs.

Without an overall leader, the Israelites were prey to stronger enemies. Eventually, they realized they needed a king, like Saul and David and Solomon, but in this period they were small vulnerable pockets of people living throughout the land.

Gideon and his frightened community are described in today’s reading. They’re taking to the hills to escape marauding bands of Midianites. God calls Gideon to lead his people against them, but he shrinks from the call; he’s a poor farmer who can hardly take care of his own vineyard. He has no talent, no experience or strength, he says.

“Go with the strength you have,” was God’s message to him.

We’re certainly a divided people today; we may wonder is there’s anyone who can unite us and lead us? Is there anyone adequate to govern us?

The Book of Judges says that the “Spirit of the Lord” can come upon the weakest and transform them into leaders, as it did Gideon. A leader’s not made from human qualities alone, or political contributions or a powerful media that promotes one’s cause.The political world is not off-limits to the spiritual. The Spirit can move in the world of politics as in other areas of life, enhancing the strength one has, giving eyes to see and a mind to understand.

We may not pray for politicians enough.

Does God Provide?

I was at a fund-raiser for Providence Clinic last Sunday  evening and for some reason I’ve been thinking about the meaning of God’s providence ever since.

God’s providence is mysterious, for sure. But is it cold or fickle?  Or is God mostly uninvolved like the Enlightened Deists say. It’s all up to us, or politics, or economics. So God hasn’t much to say about little Providence Clinic.

Yet, according to Catherine of Siena’s Dialogue on Divine Providence, God is more than just an absentee land lord.

“The eternal Father, indescribably kind and tender, turned his eye to this soul and spoke to her:

‘O dearest daughter, I have determined to show my mercy and loving kindness to the world, and I choose to provide human beings with all that is good. But they, ignorant, turns into a death-giving thing what I gave in order to give them life…Still I go on providing. So I want you to know: whatever I give to human beings, I do it out of my great providence.

‘So it was that when, by my providence, I created human beings, I looked into myself and fell in love with the beauty of the creatures I had made – for it had pleased me, in my providence, to create human beings in my own image and likeness.

‘Moreover, I gave them memory, to remember the good things I had done for them and  to share in my own power, the power of the eternal Father.

‘Moreover, I gave them intellect, so that, seeing the wisdom of my Son,  they could recognize and understand my own will; for I am the giver of all graces and I give them with a burning fatherly love.

‘Moreover, I gave them the desire to love, sharing in the tenderness of the Holy Spirit, so that they might love the things that they knew and saw.

‘But my kind providence did all this solely that they might be able to understand me and enjoy me, rejoicing in my vision for all eternity. And as I have told you elsewhere, the disobedience of your first parent Adam closed heaven to you – and from that disobedience came all evil through the whole world.

‘To relieve human beings of the death that his own disobedience had brought, I tenderly and providently gave you my only-begotten Son to heal you and bring satisfaction for your needs. I gave him the task of being supremely obedient, to free the human race of the poison that your first parent’s disobedience had spread throughout the world. Falling in love, as it were, with his task, and truly obedient, he hurried to a shameful death on the most holy Cross. By his most holy death he gave you life: not human life this time, but with the strength of his divinity.’”