Election Night Hangover
Whether we were delighted or disheartened by the results of the presidential election, we needed to stay up late to learn the results. I suspect many went to bed without hearing President-elect Donald J. Trump’s acceptance speech and awoke to learn the surprise of the historic election.
The next happened to be the church’s celebration of the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome. I know of no one who has a devotion to this feast, unlike St. Patrick’s or St. Joseph’s Days, for example. The gospel reading at Mass was the Jesus’ cleansing of the temple. His anger is clear, as he saw poor people exploited in paying the temple tax. This familiar event in the life of Jesus could connect well with various experiences and feelings of different Americans: Some are, like Jesus, angry; others see a hope that this leader would affect much needed change to their beloved institution; maybe groups are incredulous at what they are watching in a leader behaving so unconventionally.
Finding meaning in something so important as a presidential election holds value for us as disciples. We are, after all, faithful citizens, as our bishops remind us. We are also eternal citizens, as St. Paul reminds us: “Our citizenship is in heaven” (Phil. 3:20).
Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez tweeted after the election: “And let’s remember that we are Catholics first. Christians first. This is our true identity.” Indeed, we know that when we meet Jesus at the end of our lives, he will not ask for our passports. Yet, our nationalism, grounded in a thorough love of our great country, sometimes prompts our national identity to become spinal in how we stand in our world. The archbishop offers a helpful reminder. In baptism, each of us, regardless of our country of origin, is launched on a trajectory of grace that takes us to heaven, where our true citizenship bestows divine rights of dignity, respect, and honor that everyone is called to esteem.
As we pray for President-elect Trump, let us rejoice in the beauty of our country, work for its unity, care for our sisters and brothers and the natural environment we inhabit, and stand tall and proud to be Christians whose fidelity to the Gospel impels us to peace and justice that will be fulfilled in Jesus in heaven, where we are all citizens.