The Remedy for World Weariness
Paralyzing world-weariness is not an option for a Christian. Getting our priorities right is the secret to peace of soul and apostolic zeal. Jesus teaches there is only one Rabbi, Father, and Master (cf. Mt. 23:8-10). God alone determines the meaning of all teaching authority, fatherhood, and rulership. We participate in His authority only when we place God first.
The teachings of Jesus reinforce the correct order of our relationships: God, family, and country. Families and nations participate in God’s authority with the law of God impressed on the hearts of all. We wrestle to keep God first in our thoughts, words, and deeds. Rearranging the priorities leads to the abuses of tribalism and Godless nationalism.
Tribalism places family groupings above God and country. Nations that place family above God encourage the brutal strife of tribalism. The hatred of the Sunni and Shia Muslims in the Middle East fueled the war between Iraq and Iran in the 1980s. The war in Ukraine is arguably a tribal war between Slavs. The war in Israel is also arguably a tribal war among Semites. In 1994, during the genocide of the Rwandan Civil War, nearly a million died. But Jesus transcended the bonds of tribalism in His Kingdom when He replaced the Twelve Tribes of Israel with the Twelve Apostles.
Godless ideological nationalism places country above God. Modern Godless nationalism spawns mass murder and injustices on a global scale. The old Soviet Union, Communist China, the Third Reich, and the injustice of atheistic globalism are dreadful illustrations of the consequences.
Nations organized under religion may become theocracies by imposing religious practices. But the Church acknowledges the necessity of religious freedom (cf. Vatican II, Declaration on Religious Liberty). Our nation “under God” (as our Pledge of Allegiance has it) is not a theocracy. Our Godly duties include Judeo-Christian moral precepts traditionally understood in Western Civilization accompanied by freedom of worship.
God and family form the foundation of a good nation. We “engage in politics” so that we can worship God in freedom, protect our families, and improve the culture. We desire freedom to choose the good, economic security for families, and protection from the carnage of war. We recognize that “politics is the art of the possible” as we cooperate with non-believers. We rely on our religion to participate in politics abiding by the Ten Commandments.
G. K. Chesterton observed: “The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.” We love God, family, and country. God first. In recent weeks, Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) has used his position to hold up mass approval of military nominees until the Administration rescinds the Pentagon’s policy of promoting abortions in the military. His Godly battle helps us understand the meaning of “one nation, under God.”
In response to an Internet post by a priest invoking the Fifth Commandment to evaluate war, a Catholic observed: “Please take a moment, Father, to share the Catholic Just War Theory when engaged with the anti-Christian theologies of Islam and atheism. Try to persuade a Muslim.” That comment is provocative and worthy of a response.
God’s law includes the right of self-defense. However, the comment minimizes the duty of Christian witness, disregards the inherent human receptiveness to the truth, and implies that only violence resolves international conflicts. The attitude too readily dismisses our capacity as instruments of God’s grace, the heroic long-suffering of the Christian martyrs, and the Sacrifice of Jesus Himself. The comment also deflects attention from our own (individual and cultural) violations of the Commandments.
The Hamas terrorist attacks became even more appalling when we received the details of their murder of children. We also murder our children in abortion using the latest in antiseptic medical technology. The babies feel the same pain, but there are no videos for the world to see. Their screams are silent. Recent “Hamas-friendly” legislation in Michigan guarantees that abortion is legal throughout all stages of pregnancy. The Fifth Commandment applies to everyone—including civilized Americans—and calls for repentance.
Occasionally placing God first requires that we fail in politics. God is eternal; our country is time-bound. A vibrant economy awaits the next economic downturn. The uncertainty of election cycles separates political victories. The outbreak of the next war ruins the peace. But a conscience that remains unscathed by evil has eternal rewards. “For what shall it profit a man, if he gains the whole world, and suffer the loss of his soul?” (Mk. 8:36) So, we suffer disdain, persecution, and even death at the hands of those who hate us before endangering our souls.
But suppose we fail to put God first, pander to ideologies, or refuse to respond to the flicker of conscience. These pathologies in the Church are painfully familiar. High-ranking Churchmen promote the LGBTQ agenda and distract attention with “climate change” activism. Others are complicit with the crippling government spending, a form of intergenerational theft in the name of “social justice.” Neglecting the pointed precepts of the Ten Commandments undermines the understanding of authentic human dignity. As we take positions to appease Godlessness, we disregard the joys of a clear conscience and stoke the fires of personal helplessness and despair.
Jesus says, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Mt. 10:28) We remain on the path to heaven as we put God first. We cultivate our families with virtue sustained by His grace. The consolation of the indwelling of sanctifying grace that comes with the Sacraments motivates us to keep up the spiritual battle for salvation.
We need not pretend our task is easy or without risk of discouraging disagreements. But God’s grace, our vocations, and our salvation aren’t cheap. Our country needs virtuous citizens, strong families, and wise governance. Placing God first is the remedy for world-weariness and puts us back in the game of working out our salvation in holy “fear and trembling” (cf. Phil. 2:12).
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