‘Armageddon’ or ‘Awesome miracle’? It’s remarkable to consider how one event can be perceived in two such contradictory ways. But if my Twitter feed is any indication, this is precisely the case for the ‘transfer of power’ that occurred in the US on Friday.
Among the 1,200 or so folks I ‘follow’ on Twitter, there’s a fair representation from both sides of the political spectrum—but not because I sought it out. In fact, I tend to add new ‘follows’ based primarily on religious/‘Christian witness’ connections—not on political leanings.
And that simple fact only intensifies the mystery—of strong opinions, diametrically opposed opinions…espoused by people with whom I would gladly break bread.
I have no intention of adding to the cacophony currently polluting the blogosphere. I am intrigued by the mystery, however. I am intrigued by the sheer energy and conviction that so very many people of goodwill pour into the political debate.
We all have an opinion, it seems. And given the tenor of the ‘tweets’ I’ve been reading of late, we’d all be well advised to consider Abraham Lincoln’s observation —made during an earlier period of conflict in the nation’s history:
‘One side must be, and both sides may be, wrong.’
Amid the high-intensity babble, I find it interesting to reflect on the gospel passage we hear at Mass this Sunday. In some respects, it can be read as a ‘transfer of power’ episode: Jesus making the initial picks in what would eventually become his inner circle of apostles.
He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him.
But for me, the most intriguing and instructive note is sounded at the very beginning of the passage:
When Jesus heard that John [the Baptist] had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee.
Notice: His cousin caught up in a power struggle with an earthly king…and what does Jesus do? He removes himself from the scene. He withdraws to Galilee…embracing distance over engagement.
It’s not for lack of courage that Jesus makes this choice. One need only gaze upon the cross to know the depth of courage beating in the heart of the Holy One.
So why withdraw?
Perhaps it’s because the distance makes things easier to see. Stepping back from the scene, it’s easier to recognize the idolatry present in any discussion of political wins and losses. And: It’s easier to hear how God calls us, constantly, to look beyond earthly kingdoms for our salvation.
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.