Thursday, September 24, 2015

Salvation Is Personal, Not Collective

Sitting at the airport yesterday, waiting to board a flight, I watched some of Airport CNN's coverage of the Pope's visit. It was thorough and very respectful. I've carped about them in the past, but I was very grateful they worked so hard to produce a quality show for people like me.

The coverage, of course, was very American. As I said yesterday, it focused on politics and sex. Is the Pope coming out in favor of this or that, is the Church going to change its position on this or that. It's sad to see such a wonderful opportunity to spread the Gospel lost on that nonsense. I'm on a business trip and too busy to read his full remarks, so I don't know if his visit was all about global warming climate change, immigration and annulments, but that is dominating what little coverage I've seen.

Leaders, be they political or spiritual or business, often react and move to unseen forces. You don't know what's going on in the board room or the cabinet meetings and so you don't fully understand why this or that topic is the one they choose to act and speak on. If Il Papa wants to talk about global warming climate change, good on him, but in my ignorance of his understanding, I wish his focus had been 100% personal and 0% collective so as to give no fuel at all to the discussions of politics and sex.

One of the things that has turned me away from politics, even though I blog about it - it's such a great fodder for a post - has been my work with fatherless young men and the homeless and poor. That's where change really happens. That's where lives are touched and Christ's love is shared. For me, reality is an individual physically doing something to help others - visiting people in prison, mentoring a young man, distributing food. Voting according to the dictates of this speech or that is all well and good, but nothing of consequence happens until you make it happen, both for you and the people you help.

Of course, I'm writing this from the wealthiest country in the world where our poor have cell phones and clothes to wear, so I certainly don't come at the issue from the perspective of a priest working in the slums of Argentina like the Holy Father. I'm sure there's a wealth of experience there that has created his world view and until I go and work in those places, I can only guess at it. In any case, I wish his visit had been all about you and me spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ through the works of our lives and not at all about global warming climate change, immigration and economics.

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