Our nation faces challenges that demand strong moral courage.
We are a country divided by race and ethnicity and class;
a nation of immigrants struggling with immigration;
a nation involved in wars, with all their human cost.
We are an affluent society
where too many live in poverty.
We are part of a global community
and facing urgent threats to our planet.
As Catholics and as Christians,
we are called to participate
in shaping the moral character of our society.
It is the mission given to us,
as it was to our brother Jesus,
by the Spirit of God.
Our Catholic Church has been very clearly calling us
to put our faith values into action
since its 1976 document Faithful Citizenship.
The values of Catholicism do not conflict
with the values of our democracy.
Catholics—both as citizens of the city of God
as citizens of the United States of America—
believe that life, liberty, and equality are God-given rights.
Our faith requires us
to stand in solidarity
with the most vulnerable people
and with our vulnerable planet.
This past Tuesday evening
we heard President Obama
echo the values of our faith
when he delivered his farewell address
to the American people.
He said that “change only happens
when ordinary people get involved,
and they get engaged,
and they come together to demand it.”
He called those actions that lead to change
“the beating heart of our American idea”
and quoted the Declaration of Independence,
that we are all created equal,
endowed by our Creator
with rights of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.
Life, liberty, equality—
rights that come from God for all people,
every single one.
we remember the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,
who, as a man of God,
preached those scriptures we just heard.
Half a century ago, he said,
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.
I can never be what I ought to be
until you are what you ought to be.
Life’s most persistent and urgent question is,
‘What are you doing for others?’
And he said,
Our lives begin to end
the day we become silent
about things that matter.
It’s fitting that today’s readings
are full of political and theological meanings
not only for the time they were written,
not only for the time before that,
but for our time as well.
The message for us,
as it was for Isaiah and Paul and John,
servant discipleship and inclusiveness.
Isaiah talks about the anointed leader being formed from the womb
to be God’s servant
and a light to peoples of all the nations.
Paul tells the Corinthians that they are the body of Christ,
flesh and blood alive
and continuing to incarnate God in history.
John the Evangelist tells us
that the meaning of baptism
is in its revelation of Jesus
as the servant of God.
Behold the Lamb of God, John says.
Theologian Joachim Jeremias observed
that the word for “lamb” in Aramaic was “talyã’,”
which meant lamb,
but it also meant slave or servant.
When we read these passages, we see ourselves in them.
We claim for ourselves
the calling to be servants of God
and light to the nations.
It’s not only Christians who are called to bring light to the nations.
People of all religions follow that same call,
each in our own culture and tradition.
And it’s not just people of faith who are called
to bring light to the nations.
labeled atheists or agnostics or “nones” by the media today
are people of virtue
with values and priorities
that call them to lead lives of service
and do the good works that bring light to others.
With us Catholics and Christians
and people of every faith everywhere,
they can claim citizenship in this country
and on our planet
and in the reign of God.
On Tuesday, President Obama urged us to be good citizens,
to speak up for justice,
to care for the common good.
It’s the same message we heard from Dr. King in the Sixties.
It’s the same message we heard from Isaiah 2,800 years ago,
and Paul and John 1,950 years ago.
It’s the message of God’s Spirit to Jesus and to us:
I love you.
I call you to serve one another.
I have chosen you to be light for the world.
For those of us who have dedicated our lives to the Way of Jesus,
this coming Friday’s inauguration
marks the need for even greater commitment to inclusivity
and even greater efforts at serving the most vulnerable.
We are called.
So let’s get to work.
Holy Spirit Catholic Community
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m./Sundays at 5:30 p.m.
at 3925 West Central Avenue
Toledo, OH 43606
Rev. Dr. Bev Bingle, Pastor
Mailing address: 3156 Doyle Street, Toledo, OH 43608-2006