Facing an Uncertain Future with a Hopeful Spirit
Donald Trump Message to Catholics
33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
“OMG, IT’S TRUMP!” Such was the headline on two leading newspapers here in the Philippines (Philippine Star and Inquirer) 4 days ago when Trump literally “triumphed” over Hillary by an astounding win to become US’s 45th President. The impact was so great that the Global economy was affected. The stock market plunged that day but recovered swiftly as it fell to an all-time high two days after. It also devastated the millions of Americans who voted for Hillary and win her the number of votes, but unfortunately not the “electoral votes” which is the only thing that matters. As we speak, there are protesters in a number of US States voicing out their concerns about the incoming administration and all that Trump promised during his campaign.
Now, why am I even mentioning this? What has it to do with us being a Catholic country? Following the turn of events, I have observed how majority of those who protested are the minorities: the LGBT community, people of color, the Latino community, the undocumented immigrants, women, etc. What basically resound is FEAR – fear of inequality; fear of deportation (which could happen to some of our Filipino brothers and sisters in the US); and the fear of an uncertain future. Such is the tone of our readings this Sunday. What seemed to be manifested during Trump’s big win as it has affected the world, were signs of the end of times as Jesus puts it in the Gospel. Could this give rise to a “Nation rising against another nation and kingdom against kingdom?” Where is the Good News in all these?
1. We must LOOK at the FUTURE with a HOPEFUL and POSITIVE SPIRIT. The reality of the world coming to an end is something that’s inevitable though unclear. But, we cannot simply stand idly by as to calculate when it could happen basing on dubious signs. As we look forward to it, we have to keep a positive, open and a hopeful heart. As St. Paul says in his letter to the Thessalonians: “To work seriously and not simply act as busy bodies.” We have to be prepared by doing God’s will every day, leading holy lives of selfless love, mercy, compassion and forgiveness. To do this, we have to recharge our spiritual batteries every day through a devout personal prayer. Also, we can make, as a habit, to practice daily examination of our conscience before going to bed, and ask God’s pardon and forgiveness for the sins of the day. As we give an account of our lives each day, we make ourselves ready for what God has in store for us in the future with a hope of God’s just retribution.
1-10 (10 being the highest) How much trustworthiness do you have for the Trump administration as a Catholic?
2. We need to LEAD EXEMPLARY LIVES in the midst of a PASSING WORLD. Things of this world: our possessions, our homes, our churches, etc. all of these will perish and hence, only “temporary” like our very lives. But, we will be judged not by the quantity of our worldly possessions and achievements, but in our fidelity to our Faith and its concretization through our loving service of others. And so, how such faithfulness is expressed each day is very crucial to our Christian life and the future we earnestly desire. Moreover, we must persevere in our Faith, in spite of worldly challenges, and attacks on religion and moral values, and direct or indirect persecution because of our religious beliefs. As Jesus expressed in our Gospel today: “By your perseverance, you will secure your lives.”
Also, in our Second Reading, St. Paul stressed the significance of being good models to the people of Thessalonica and so become good witnesses to Christ. By their example, they may find a “permanent” place they could call their “home” in the midst of a passing or temporal world.
Anne Lamott, a known American writer, in her memoir, Traveling Mercies, she writes about this dark period of her life (after the death of her father when she was 25 yrs. old when in depression she resorted to alcohol and pills) and tells how a community of Christian Faith, a neighborhood church called St. Andrew, came to her rescue. In her book she tells the time-honored story of a little girl who was lost. This girl ran up and down the streets of the big town where her family lived, but she couldn’t find a single landmark. She was frightened. Finally a policeman stopped to help her. He put her in the passenger seat of his car, and they drove around until she finally saw her church. She pointed it out to the policeman, and then she told him firmly, “You can let me out now. This is my church, and I can always find my way home from here.” Anne Lamott writes, “And that is why I have stayed so close to mine because no matter how bad I am feeling, how lost or lonely or frightened, when I see the faces of the people at my church, when I hear their tawny voices, I can always find my way home.” (Anchor, 2000)
I do believe that Christian witnessing, in order to be effective, must be able to move and inspire people to see hope in the midst of dark moments in life. More importantly, they must be able to find, through our witnessing, a true “home” - a community they can turn to when everyone else seems to fail them. Do you find such community here at Holy Family Parish? Or, in general, in a particular Church you can call “home?”
Some more Good News?
President-Elect Donald Trump wrote this message to delegates at the Catholic conference in Denver, which took place the same week of the US national election (Please check link below for the complete text of the message). In his letter he said: “Catholics in the United States of America are a rich part of our nation’s history. The United States was, and is, strengthened through Catholic men, women, priests and religious Sisters, ministering to people, marching in the civil rights movement, educating millions of children in Catholic schools, creating respected health care institutions, and in their founding and helping the ongoing growth of the pro-life cause. I have a message for Catholics: I will be there for you. I will stand with you. I will fight for you.”
How sincere these words are? I don’t know. Only time will tell. But, this message is totally the opposite of the Donald Trump we see on television and the “nasty” campaign that went before the election. If he is able to say these words to Catholics, then I guess there is hope for us. The future may be uncertain, but we can embrace it with a hopeful attitude. Jesus assures us today that though we may be “hated” because of our faith, through it we can be secured of a place in heaven.
The reality of the world coming to an end will happen whether we like it or not. But in line with such reality, we can always keep a positive spirit. Our spiritual disposition could help us change our distorted core beliefs. Let us be vigilant and keep a patient endurance in the midst of a seemingly “ending world!”
God bless us all!