November 9, 2016

He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves,
as well as the money-changers seated there.
He made a whip out of cords
and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen,
and spilled the coins of the money-changers
and overturned their tables,
and to those who sold doves he said,
“Take these out of here,
and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.”
His disciples recalled the words of Scripture,
Zeal for your house will consume me.
(Jn 2:14-17)


Oh man, the "takes".

Everyone has their own "take" on this election, to the point that it seems almost required to publicly declare your level of approval/disappointment/above-it-all-ness/fill in the gap on Facebook or Twitter. Here are two of my favorites, though I can see why some find them distasteful: they, like so many others, are just dripping with frustration and, therefore, end up lashing out here and there. People alternately feel a desperate need to make their position known and to shut out all the noise of everyone else take on things.

Like it or not, elections are occasions to take inventory. They call for a weird sort of secular examen, which is then scrutinized in the light of your personal context and cross-referenced with the opinions of your peers and leaders that you respect. Taking stock this year, our nation clearly has a lot of one thing: anger. And, in my official Frassati take, I'm here to tell you that's not necessarily bad.

Let's face it, if you're not frustrated with one candidate, you certainly were with the other, or at the very least the trajectory of this campaign. Everyone's dissatisfied, and the easy way out is to say it's because the other side was so awful, so wrong. Or maybe the process was broken. Or maybe we have been divided from people we care about. I know because I feel it too. I'm not above any of the feelings (even taking into account that as I am a white, educated man, I will likely be affected the least by any outcome of the political process).

Yet our job, as Christians, is to use our emotions as guides and indicators of the world around us, then use our will to orient them properly. We need to take the noise, hear the frustration and not dismiss it nor grow apathetic. In this case, we need to direct our anger and frustration at a worthy target: injustice.

The verse above is from today's gospel. That's Jesus, flipping tables, braiding a cord with his calloused hands, driving out the temple's desecrators. It's calculated and planned. It takes a while to braid a cord, so this wasn't white hot rage. Plus, it's Jesus, so that's not really an option. It's strategic. I'm sure it was cathartic. But most importantly, it was oriented toward protecting and drawing attention to the Father's temple. This is anger, transformed by grace into zeal. Jesus is wholly consumed by zeal, and because of this, not in spite of it, he accomplished the Father's will. Oriented properly, Christ's zeal was prophetic and ultimately unifying.

We cannot rest in God while in a state of division, though He often brings it about to call us into self-examination (see Matt 10:34). In other words, when people are divided amongst themselves, it presents an opportunity to cultivate a righteous zeal that can lead to unity in Christ. That means we weren't wrong for being ticked off for the past month (and thank God for that), but we need to steer our frustration in the right direction. 

Now that the election is over, we ought to seek every opportunity to unite under the banner of justice and righteousness with all of our fellow citizens. We ought to pray daily for the Holy Spirit to be the author of our future. And we ought to use the wounds we wrought in one another as opportunities to, through grace, heal even deeper hurts between us and strengthen our bonds as families and communities. If you fought with friends or relatives, seek to make amends and heal your relationship to be even better than it was before.

This is God's work in division: to use our zeal to enkindle our spirit, then bind us together in ways that incorporate Him more than we ever could have before.

Praised be Jesus Christ, divider, and praised be Jesus Christ, an even more powerful unifier.

Frassati NY