Homily Starting points on Election themes for specific Sundays
Below you will find suggested ways in which the readings for specific
Sunday liturgies can lead us into reflections upon our political
responsibilities in the weeks immediately preceding the general elections.
23rd Sunday C
Today's readings speak of wisdom in earthly affairs. Wisdom helps us
recognize the fleeting nature of material possessions. Wisdom enables us to make
our plans carefully, not committing to that which we cannot fulfill. Wisdom also
enables us to know how much we do not know, and never to pretend that we do.
As our nation prepares to elect new leaders this year, a prayer for wisdom is
in order. The promises that candidates make are many. But as our bishops say in
their 2003 document Faithful Citizenship, "Politics in this election
year and beyond should be about an old idea with new power--the common good. The
central question should not be, "Are you better off than you were four years
ago?" It should be, "How can ‘we'--all of us, especially the weak and
vulnerable--be better off in the years ahead? How can we protect and promote
human life and dignity? How can we pursue greater justice and peace?"
24th Sunday C
The readings of today convey the power of repentance and conversion: the
Prodigal Son returns, Paul stops killing Christians and becomes one himself, and
God turns away from the punishment he was about to inflict on his people.
How do we say the prayer, "God bless America?" In the first Congress, John
Adams, responding to a question from one of his colleagues about whether we
would succeed in our struggle with Great Britain, said, "Yes -- if we fear God
and repent of our sins."
Patriotism is a virtue. A true love of one's country means we work for a
spirit of repentance. This has to be reflected in our laws and in our leaders,
and in how our policies protect innocent life. Taking part in our national
elections is a key way for us to participate in this effort.
25th Sunday C
Paul, in today's Second Reading, urges prayers for all in authority. We are
to pray for our national leaders, and we are to pray for those who seek public
office, and for the voters who will elect them. Public office is for public
service, especially of the poor.
The Biblical concept of the "poor" does not simply mean those with fewer
material possessions. It means those who have no defense but God.
Public servants exist to carry out the role of government which, as our
Declaration of Independence says, is to "secure" the rights "endowed by their
Creator." The first such right is life, which is why Pope John Paul II has
written, "Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of
human rights -- for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family,
to culture -- is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and
fundamental right and the condition of all other personal rights, is not
defended with maximum determination. .." (Christifideles Laici, 38).
26th Sunday C
Today's readings teach us that our relationship with God depends in large
measure on how we respond to the needs of other human beings, especially those
who are most defenseless. The Rich Man did not go to hell because he was rich,
but because he ignored the other man. He may have thought he was right
with God, but his failure to respond to a visible, public need ruined whatever
private relationship he thought he had with the Lord. The same was true of the
people to whom Amos spoke -- and they incurred public punishment for their sins.
Many candidates for public office try to separate their "private faith" from
their public role. But the two are inseparable, because the God we worship in
private calls us to care for the defenseless in public, starting with the most
defenseless, the unborn. In June 2004 the US Bishops said the following in their
statement "Catholics in Political Life": "The separation of church and state
does not require division between belief and public action, between moral
principles and political choices..."
27th Sunday C
Faith has consequences. The just man, because of his faith, shall live (First
Reading). What does the just man do in an age of violence as Habakkuk saw, or in
a "culture of death," as we see? The just, faithful person lives in hope
because he can see beyond the violence. He can look in hope to a culture of
life in the future based on a God who loves us in the present.
And the just respond to that love by loving one another. This love is
translated into concrete action to build a better society. We speak up for
justice, and for the right to life. We work to elect leaders who will protect
life. And after all the striving and the toil, we say, "We have only done our
duty." Public officials are called to do the same. Standing up for the right to
life is part of the very job description of public service.
28th Sunday C
The Syrian (First Reading) and the Samaritan (Gospel) see the saving power of
the God of Israel. This salvation has been opened to all nations in Jesus Christ
The Founding Fathers of this nation were Christian men who came to this
nation to find the freedom to worship Christ without interference from
government authority. Patrick Henry wrote, "This is all the inheritance I can
give to my dear family. The religion of Christ can give them one which will make
them rich indeed."
As we prepare for our national elections, we remind ourselves that our
loyalty to Christ, and the good of our nation, requires that we take an active
part in the political process. While membership in a political party is
legitimate, our loyalty must always be to Christ and his teachings above all.
29th Sunday C
We are called to pray, especially for our leaders and for those who, in these
days, seek our vote for public office. Prayer is not magic. It is not a
sugar-coating placed over whatever set of beliefs or practices we want to have.
Prayer, rather, means union with God -- a union which is expressed in words
because it flows from our very life.
We are to pray for Godly leaders -- that is, those who understand that there
is a higher law than that passed by human governments, and that no government
can authorize acts like abortion that completely contradict the law of God.
Alexander Hamilton, one of the signers of the Constitution, wrote, "[T]he
law...dictated by God Himself is, of course, superior in obligation to any
other. It is binding over all the globe, in all countries, and at all times. No
human laws are of any validity if contrary to this."
30th Sunday C
Sirach tells us that God "hears the cry of the oppressed." He heard the cry
of his people being oppressed in Egypt and sent Moses to deliver them. He heard
the cry of his people being oppressed by sin, and sent Christ to deliver them.
He also hears the cry of the unborn, and to deliver them he sends us. Among
the many ways we exercise deliverance of the poor and weak is to elect leaders
who will in fact protect their rights by law. While law is not the only answer
and politics is not our salvation, it is nevertheless one of our duties as
Christians to be good citizens. In his encyclical letter on the Eucharist, Pope
John Paul II writes, "Certainly the Christian vision leads to the expectation
of "new heavens" and "a new earth" (Rev 21:1), but this increases, rather than
lessens, our sense of responsibility for the world today. I wish to reaffirm
this forcefully at the beginning of the new millennium, so that Christians will
feel more obliged than ever not to neglect their duties as citizens in this
world" (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, n.20).
31st Sunday C
The readings today emphasize God's pro-active love for the lowly, the
defenseless, the sinner. Nothing has to exist. It all exists because of
God's love. Nobody has to be redeemed. Redemption is given to us freely,
as it was given to Zaccheus.
And as Zaccheus illustrates, there is a response on our part. Our gratitude
is shown in concrete acts of solidarity with others, above and beyond the call
As we approach our national elections, let's show our gratitude for this
nation, and for our freedom, by exercising the right and duty to vote. As our
bishops wrote in Living the Gospel of Life, "We encourage all citizens,
particularly Catholics, to embrace their citizenship not merely as a duty and
privilege, but as an opportunity meaningfully to participate in building the
culture of life. Every voice matters in the public forum. Every vote counts.
Every act of responsible citizenship is an exercise of significant individual
power. We must exercise that power in ways that defend human life..." (n. 34).