“Truly I tell you,” he continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown.
I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time,
when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a
severe famine throughout the land.
Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them,
but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon.
And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of
Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed,
only Naaman the Syrian.”
Working for the Catholic Church, my family and friends have always accepted what I do. But we rarely discuss faith. There seems to just be an understanding that I believe what I believe and that I happen to earn a paycheck for it. Some are curious and polite and ask what I do, but the faith behind the job is never discussed. In the same vein, I’ve learned my lesson to leave my political views under wraps when I’m at home as well.
Jesus understood this reality that we sometimes have the hardest time sharing our inner thoughts and beliefs with those closest around us. When he visited his hometown, the people just saw him as the carpenter’s son – “how is he able to understand these scriptures?” As we navigate our relationship with the ever-growing American Solidarity Party, we may have the most difficult time discussing these views with our own family and friends.
While our faith and our political views are intertwined, they are still inherently different. There is a delicate balance between the two. And in that, it’s difficult to discuss one without the other. I’ve only made the mistake twice of making political assumptions. However, they were memorable mistakes.
The first, I made the general statement to a group of middle school students that “in most circumstances, the Catholic Church leans in a democratic direction, aside from the issue of abortion.” Oops. I heard from parents about that statement – apparently my assumption was wrong and there is a wide spectrum of political views within the same Christian church.
In the other circumstance, the issue of abortion came up with a pro-choice, yet Republican family member. I made the statement that I could never vote for a pro-choice candidate. His reply was, “you can’t allow the government to make those choices for women.” Thus, I shut my mouth and have never brought up the subject again.
So then, how can we find the courage and the tact to share our new political venture with friends and family? How can we follow Jesus’ example of stopping through his hometown, sharing our peace, and then praying that it sinks in? It takes courage and humility.
It seems there are two ways to go about sharing our political and faithful beliefs: We can speak our minds and argue, or we can share, listen, and then find peace knowing differences can be okay. Jesus chose the latter. He preached in his hometown, showed everyone what he could do and what he could teach – and then he left. I’m sure he left with a prayer that he made an impression – but nonetheless he left. And he let God do the rest of the work.
Can we do the same? Can we gracefully share our experiences and understandings of truths, and then listen to others? And then we wait. We pray and we hope. When we read through the gospel stories, we hear accounts of Jesus healing a few in the crowd. He heals those who ask – but he never forces the truth on anyone, in any way.
When Jesus encountered the woman at the well (John 4:7) “When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, ‘Will you give me a drink?’” He waits, and he listens. The woman is the one who is curious and asks questions.
We also see the same when Jesus encountered the Rich Man:
As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good. But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.’ “Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.” Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions. (Matthew 10:17-22)
The man went away sad. But Jesus did not go after him and continue to defend his point. He stated his truth, and let the man own his choice. We must do the same.
Paul tells the Corinthians in verse 13:1, that we must do all things with love, lest we become unintelligible noise. “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” I can just hear Charlie Brown’s teacher now. Let us not argue and endlessly preach. It is when we listen to others, await their curiosity, and pray for conversion that we are most effective. That is how we grow a Christian Democracy party.
Emily Clary is a Catholic youth minister and Religion teacher. She has worked in schools and parishes in the Diocese of Providence, Raleigh, and currently in Charlotte. She lives in Charlotte with her husband and three children. She writes to encourage the Christian family to remember we are all interconnected and that our choices affect one another.