Jesus is the answer

In Catholic elementary school, I often heard a joke: “If you don’t know the answer on a test, just write ‘Jesus,’ because Jesus is always the answer.” At 22, that joke seems truer and truer. Jesus really is the answer to every question, but not quite in the way my classmates meant.

At my current school, the University of Washington, politics is the buzz. Elections, social justice issues and public policy seem to be of utmost importance, and I get it. Many of us see political action as the best way to make a positive impact on the world. After all, our political discussions seek to solve some of the world’s biggest problems.

But as a young Catholic, I’ve learned that political action doesn’t hold a candle to Christian discipleship.

This isn’t to say politics isn’t important — the church teaches that governments have an essential role in defending and promoting the common good, and we should bring our faith to bear in the public square. But for a Catholic, politics isn’t enough.

Take an issue like economic inequality. Yes, good public policy is necessary to correct the scandal of unjust and excessive inequality. But Jesus calls us to something higher: the virtue of charity.

“Give to everyone who asks of you.”

“Sell what you have and give to the poor.”

“Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.”

When thinking about poverty or social injustice, it’s tempting to say, “That’s what I pay taxes for. The government can fix those problems.” But Jesus tells us to love our neighbor. Us personally!

The government can disburse money, but it cannot love. Only we can. To receive a check from the government can be helpful, even essential — but to be shown love by one’s neighbor can be life-changing. That’s the power of the Gospel.

I’ve learned this from my dad. By volunteering at Nativity House in Tacoma, a program of Catholic Community Services, he helps provide hot meals and housing to those in need. “When I hand someone their meal and they thank me, they’re not just thanking me for the food,” he says. “They’re also thanking me because I’ve shown them that someone cares. It’s something personal.”

My dad doesn’t see problems to be solved, but people to be loved. It’s easy to watch the news and lament, “There are so many problems in the world,” but Jesus reminds us that life isn’t a game of numbers.

As Auxiliary Bishop Daniel Mueggenborg says, everything we do as Christians is meant to be ministry — the sacred action of Christ serving Christ. We are called to say “Yes” to the presence of Jesus in us and working through us to serve Jesus present in others.

If we can do this, loving one neighbor at a time, we will change the world.

Jesus really is the answer.

Jack Mennie is a member of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Federal Way and the Prince of Peace Catholic Newman Center at the University of Washington.

Northwest Catholic - November 2020

Cast in and cast out

“Every country has the government it deserves.” – Joseph de Maistre (1753–1821)

“As the people’s judge, so the officials; as the head of a city, so the inhabitants. A reckless king destroys his people, but a city grows through the intelligence of its princes. Sovereignty over the earth is in the hand of God, who appoints the right person for the right time.” – Sirach 10:2–4

Besides life, the most precious treasure we have as human beings is our freedom. God gives us free will because he loves us, and love can never be imposed. The Creator endowed us with intelligence to discover the truth and to choose it with all our hearts.

If we are unhappy with the leadership in our countries and institutions, we must not forget that in democratic countries like ours, we have been the ones who elected those leaders, and therefore we are largely responsible for what we do not like; perhaps we are even ashamed.

As believers, we have an obligation to vote for leaders according to our Catholic moral principles and Catholic social teachings, enlightened by our faith in the leader we have chosen as the baptized: Jesus Christ. We don’t deserve such a sublime governor; regardless, he trusts our vote.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” This sentence is in the Declaration of Independence written by the founders of this nation.

As we mature as citizens and Christians, we must exercise our responsibility to build societies with the values, principles and teachings of our supreme leader, Christ, and delegate this task to the leaders for whom we vote. The consequence of this decision is that we have to cast out everything that is contrary to that election. If we vote for justice, we have to cast out unfairness. If we vote for purity, we have to cast out what makes our lives dirty. If we vote for life, we have to cast out what produces death. If we vote for freedom, we must cast out all slavery.

We the baptized are chosen by God to build a civilization of love. It is a slow process, with areas still in darkness. Our common Creator respects the freedom that he himself created, until we decide to act in the light of our reason, always risking being wrong.

Mary, Joseph and all the holy men and women throughout Christianity have voted for the values ​​of Jesus Christ and have cast out from their lives everything that prevented them from fully embracing him as the only leader who always keeps his promises. Those who vote for Jesus will have to cast out many things, but will never be disappointed. As voters, let us proclaim like Mary the wonders of our election.

Northwest Catholic - November 2020

  • Published in Bishop
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