Crashing out with no deal. No checkpoints. What about the backstop? This is all the language associated with the dreaded ‘b’ word: Brexit! There was a time when our neighbours were praised for their world renowned democracy and people spoke of the ‘mother of all parliaments,’ and whilst it is of course not nice to gloat, nor is it very Christian, most people acknowledge we are witnessing a right political mess when it comes to the times in which we are living. On top of this when we look towards that other well established beacon of civil liberty, our friends in America, again there is much questioning with regard to leadership. The air these days is heavy with the threat of impeachment. Now really a parish newsletter is not the place for political diatribe, or is it?

I think we all agree that to use the altar or indeed your parish newsletter to promote or indulge in party politics would indeed be wrong but it might be argued that politics with a small ‘p’ is in fact the business of the Church. Rooted in Jesus himself, and indeed in the gospel, the Church has always made a unique and enormous contribution to social justice. It is against this background that I offer this particular rant.

All over the world there is a new wave of the politics of fear. Talk of walls and foreigners and keeping people out is now prevalent again in a very similar way to that of the 1930s. So often we hear the message of fear and suspicion. On the contrary it is not often we hear the message that there is great richness in diversity. Sadly, sometimes in the past, the contribution to this debate by us as Church was not always something we can be proud of. We too managed to pedal fear. And indeed shame. And of course guilt. Catholic guilt can indeed be stifling. Crippling. This of course is not to be confused with having a healthy sense of our own sinfulness and consequently our need for God’s mercy.

It is interesting to ask ourselves do we slide into being instruments of fear and suspicion? Do we see that racist comments, or ridiculing the one who is in any way dfferent to us, even when dressed up as humour, can see easily stoke the fires of hatred?

I think when we eventually get around to our primary call, to know and proclaim Jesus of Nazareth, we will become the salt and light that makes a difference, including, and especially to, the political-socio-economic world we live in.

The message of Jesus when accurately proclaimed, and more importantly, I’ved, brings unbounded joy. Let’s resolve to be ambassadors of joy rather than prophets of gloom.

Fraternally, Joe McD


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