Homilette for Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Memorial of Saint Charles Lwanga and his companions, martyrs

(Mark 12:13-17)

Jesus may have had only taxes in mind when he told the Pharisees and Herodians to pay Caesar his due, but certainly obligations to government extend beyond that. We should take interest in public affairs, obey laws, take our turn serving on juries, and vote with conscience. In this election year citizens let us reflect a moment on this last responsibility.

To quip, “Don’t vote; it only encourages them,” is perhaps as old as teens are rebellious. We have a civil if not a sacred duty to participate in elections. There may be times when not casting a ballot demonstrates one’s unambiguous intentions. But such a voter strike is normally well-organized and called to confront serious political disorder like the current outrage in Zimbabwe.

We should vote for candidates we think will best serve the common good. This means that we look beyond those who promise us the most reward financially to those who will best contribute to a just society. Character – a life dominated by virtue – is an important indication of candidates’ potential as are their positions on issues and their past performance.

Candidates this year will debate many critical issues. Their ideas on how to improve the broken immigration system and the hemorrhaging health care system deserve attention. But two other issues take priority because of their profound negative consequences on society. We should give preponderant weight to how candidates will stop the destruction of prenatal life and will preserve the understanding of marriage as a sacred relationship between a woman and a man. These are emotionally-charged questions so we need leaders with sensitivity as well as effectiveness. But above all they have to do what is right and convince the public of the justice for their actions.