Mon. Jun 21st, 2021
Archbishop Gomez, USCCB president.

It is almost impossible to see the face of Jesus Christ in a political campaign. For a few months, even Christians shelved their Biblesd and allowed themselves to be lost in the euphoria of cannibalism and eaten up by momentary hate.

It is a very human moment!

Most Christians shied away from Joseph Biden in this campaign because as a Democrat, he espouses the right of women to their bodies, even to the point of accepting abortion as a public policy. This has served as a driving moment for Republicans too because so they gravitated towards Donald Trump this single issue of the right to life, especially of the unborn.

In fairness to President Trump, he was widely praised by US Catholics for enacting religious liberty protections, and promoting measures restricting abortion and the federal funding of abortion clinics. Trump also garnered praise among pro-lifers for his appointment of Catholic justice Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.

But Trump also faced criticism from the bishops for restricting the number of refugee and asylum seekers seeking entry into the US, and for his use of the federal death penalty.

Alright, it is not a perfect world.

Pope Francis himself made a distinction between the laws of God and men, providing a surgical hew that now accepts gay people as being entitled, civilly, to same-sex marriages beyond the papal admission that they too must belong to families and can have their own families.

What about the right to abortion as a civil right then that States may allow, but can never be acceptable to the teachings of Christian churches? The first is regulated by human law, the second is run by divine law.

Isn’t this just a broader way of giving to Caesar what is to Caesar?

Does that make am mongrel out of Biden’s faith just because of the variance in morality that people practice?

Frankly, I do not know because my Christian God has not fulfilled his second coming to earth to make the final say.

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

While the pundits sharpen their arguments, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has already congratulated the President-elect and his vice-president.  

“”We thank God for the blessings of liberty. The American people have spoken in this election.

“We recognize that Joseph R. Biden, Jr., has received enough votes to be elected the 46th President of the United States. We also congratulate Sen. Kamala D. Harris of California, who becomes the first woman ever elected as vice president.

“We acknowledge that he joins the late President John F. Kennedy as the second United States president to profess the Catholic faith.”

(The Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences, through its president Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Yangon, also welcomed the results of the election, “We warmly send our prayerful wishes and congratulations to the people of America and the president-elect Joe Biden.”)

Subsequently, the president of the USCCB girds its followers for the coming challenge:

“Now is the time for our leaders to come together in a spirit of national unity and to commit themselves to dialogue and compromise for the common good.”

Gomez further reminds Americans of their uniqueness as diverse nation: “Democracy requires that all of us conduct ourselves as people of virtue and self-discipline. It requires that we respect the free expression of opinions and that we treat one another with charity and civility, even as we might disagree deeply in our debates on matters of law and public policy.”

Concluding his remarks, the president of the Catholic bishops conference resorts to parahuman resources;

“We ask the Blessed Virgin Mary, patroness of this great nation, to intercede for us. May she help us to work together to fulfill the beautiful vision of America’s missionaries and founders — one nation under God, where the sanctity of every human life is defended and freedom of conscience and religion are guaranteed.”

Freedom of conscience

Aha, finally, a word about what nature has provided humanity to use in order to live with one another.

Not many are aware that not all humans are homo sapiens. But even less are conscious that not all homo sapiens are human [adjective]. A play of words?

It all bogs down to how we allow our conscience to control the better of us, individually and as we relate to more of us around. This is more commonly known in society as morality.

Many call themselves Christians, maybe even Catholics, but missed out on their four levels of morality.

The first level is almost what typified the 2020 US elections. A tooth for a tooth, full-speed demonization.

 I felt Joe Biden referring to this inversely in his victory speech – “… we must stop treating our opponents as our enemy. We are not enemies. We are Americans.”

“An eye for an eye” (Biblical Hebrew: עַ֚יִן תַּ֣חַת עַ֔יִן‎) or the law of retaliation (Latin: lex talionis) is the principle that a person who has injured another person is to be penalized to a similar degree by the injured party.

This is so Babylonian, we see its extreme in the brutal beliefs and practices of fundamentalist Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or its acronym Daesh.

Moving forward, the difference between the second and the third is so razor thin, they don’t really come chronological.

The second level is known as the Silver Rule. “Do not do to others what you would not like them to do to you.” Some put it in another way, “Thou shall not harm, or put others in harms way. The Hippocratic oath of the medical preofession runs in the same logic.

This appears in 2nd-century documents Didachē and the Apology of Aristides and may well have formed part of an early catechism just as it is in the Analects of Confucius five centuries before Christ, “Do not impose on others what you do not wish for yourself.”

It also appears in one form or another in the writings of Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, and Seneca.

State the Silver Rule in its positive form and we see the third level of morality – the Golden Rule, in Matthew 7, 12 “In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you. . .”

This rule of conduct is a summary of the Christian’s duty to his neighbor and states a fundamental principle of human conduct or what Jesuit Robert Spitzer terms as commonsensical ethics.

Almost all religions practice the Golden rule.

But something happened before culminating in Calvary, the fourth and ultimate level. Note that only Christians are asked this highest of worship and sacrifice. No other religion exacts this from its believers.

 In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ radicalized the “Law” by making anger murderous and lust adulterous (Matthew 5:21–22, 27–28) and calling for his disciples to be “perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).

In the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1–12), the blessings Jesus offered or what he declared were the qualities and powers of the impending Kingdom of God were available among his followers in such a way that they would bear a distinctive witness to God before the world (Matthew 5:14–16).

Archbishop Gomez attempts to reconcile this unearthly task to responsible citizenry, “As Catholics and Americans, our priorities and mission are clear. We are here to follow Jesus Christ, to bear witness to His love in our lives, and to build His Kingdom on earth. I believe that at this moment in American history, Catholics have a special duty to be peacemakers, to promote fraternity and mutual trust, and to pray for a renewed spirit of true patriotism in our country.”

Christians have believed that taking the “hard way” (Matthew 7:13–14) is possible by virtue of the trinitarian nature of this level that Christianity becomes the ideal of all religions – first in the Father’s blessings that we received as free gifts through his Son and ascertained by the Holy Spirit. (Luke 11:9–13; cf. Matthew 7:7–12). 

This is the ultimate test of our Christianity – loving our enemies!

A man holds a poster with the image of US Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and running mate, Senator Kamala Harris while watching live results of the US election at a bar in Taipei, last November 4. (Photo by Ann Wang/Reuters)

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