Homily for November 4, 2012: Fr. Scott Bullock

Nov 3, 2012

With the election just a couple of days off, I know I’m supposed to remain non-partisan, but . . . .I don’t know what I will do if President Obama is not re-elected.  He is our single best hope for America.  If he is not re-elected, it will be nothing short of disaster.  We need President Obama.

As I was saying, with the election just a couple of days off, I know I’m supposed to remain non-partisan, but . . . I don’t know what I will do if Governor Romney is not elected president.  He is our single best hope for America.  If he is not re-elected, it will be nothing short of disaster.  We need President Romney.

Single best hope for our nation?  Disaster without him?  We need this man to be our president?  Certainly there has been plenty of high-charged rhetoric like this about the upcoming election.  I certainly have my personal opinion about whom I would prefer to be president for the next four years.  So, I have found myself at times thinking to myself, and even talking with others, in almost absolute terms, as if a certain candidate must be elected, to further many of this issues that I am convinced is consistent with my Catholic faith. Have I gotten carried away?  Have you? 

The scriptures today give us an important remedy for over-heated political rhetoric and my own personal opinions about what I can begin to see as the absolute necessity of one candidate being elected as president, senator, representative, or even local dog catcher. "Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone! Therefore, you shall love the LORD, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.”

This passage, from the Book of Deuteronomy in the Old Testament, is the very center of the Jewish faith, which Jesus displayed in a most devout and perfect way.   It is called the SH’MA, from the first word in the original text, translated for us:  LISTEN.  SH’MA:  LISTEN! Devout Jews were enjoined to recite the SH’MA morning and night (see Christian practice of morning and evening prayer), recite it as the last words of their life, carry a parchment with words on arm, forehead, place it on their door posts.  They were to drill it into their children.  We Christians claim too claim this prayer as our own.  Jesus comes to us and says, SH’MA!  Listen, “I am the Lord alone!”

First word:  SH’MA:  LISTEN!  This is our first calling.  We don’t first seek our agenda, we don’t determine our own path, we don’t set our own course!  We are not to “write our own story.”  We must be passive before another.  We are to listen. 

What or who do we hear?  The Lord, your God.  God is not some vague force, some generic spiritual energy.  Nor is God a distant supreme being.  Neither of these can be Lord, because both can be set aside.  No, God seizes us, and makes demand upon our obedience.

Who is this Lord God?  He is one—he is Lord alone.  Pope Benedict XIV has reminded us, when we profess our belief in the one God, this is our SH’MA. We make in this world, with its many potential false Gods, a subversive statement, renouncing anyone else or anything else to be absolute—no country, no leader, no-thing demands our final and ultimate allegiance.

What are the implications of such a radical and singular belief in the Lord God ALONE?  In a certain sense, he can be the only one we love totally, the only one in whom we put our total trust. 

We are to love our Lord God with: All our heart—the totally of our emotions and desires. Even as we desire other things, we can and must desire God in and through these things.  All things are a foretaste of the ultimate in heaven.  Do you long for justice, political righteousness?  These are reflections of God, who is justice itself.  Do you love another?  See them as a way to God.  Love God in, under and through others.

All our Soul—the spiritual aspect of ourselves.  Too often, we chase after false Gods.  Our soul must be directed to the true God.  Nothing, nor no one, can provide all we need.  Nothing, nor no one, no matter how good, can be God.  The Lord God is God alone.

All our strength. With all of our resources.  With all that we have.   Whatever we have, we must deeply mindful that it has come to us from God and is meant to be used to serve God and exists for the praise of God.

As I have mentioned in the bulletin, our voting does matter.  We are obliged to engage our culture and society, not to remain detached, but are to attempt to imbue our public square with the inspiration of the Gospel, to love others and defend the basic dignity of each person, from conception to natural death. But, when we see the imperfections of our government, its leaders, and our inability to perfect this world, we rest in the SH’MA of the scriptures: HEAR, O Israel, The LORD is our God, the LORD alone! Therefore, you shall love the LORD, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.”

We serve God by attempting to form our society upon the vision of Christ’s Kingdom, where the least are cared for, the sick are healed, where injustice is banished.  We want this kingdom to be more and more present with all our heart, all our soul, and all our strength.  Our love of God impels us to work for a world where God’s kingdom is more fully present. While at the same time we can rest, when human efforts fail, in the fact that the Lord God is Lord alone.  All will ultimately be well because all is in the providential hands of a loving God.

Elections are important.  Our president is particularly influential in shaping our society.  But, even if our candidate is not victorious, we remember he is not our savior, he is not the Lord.  The Lord our God is Lord alone!  Only him will we serve with all our heart, all our soul, all our strength.