When news of the sexual abuse scandal first rocked the Catholic Church several years ago, a Catholic Priest I knew shared that he was, at times, ashamed to wear his priestly collar in public.  This admission has haunted me as a person of faith as it represents something that has been growing in my own heart for quite some time.  In this age of wholesale hypocrisy, alternate facts and “fake news,” I am deeply disturbed to discover that mainstream religious leaders have proclaimed God has ordained our current president to be our leader.  This statement has caused me to be ashamed to be associated with these Christian leaders and their associated sects.  I struggle with their misappropriation of what it is to be Christian and their public affirmation of their personal beliefs that are counter to my experience of the risen Jesus.
Richard Rohr recently wrote: “The evangelical support of Trump will be an indictment against its validity as a Christian movement for generations to come.” I realize that Father Rohr is a lightning rod for dissent, but few can doubt his heart.  In reading the letters of Paul, we discover that dissent was common in the early church.  Finding the way to common ground and purpose was not easy but the focus was always redirected back to the risen Lord and the building of the kingdom on earth.  Our Lord reminded us that the two greatest commandments were:  1) love the Lord with all your heart, mind and soul and 2) love your neighbor as yourself.
One of my favorite journalists (Rachel Maddow) has given wise counsel when she says don’t listen to what they say (it’s all noise) watch what they do. My heart is burdened by those who proclaim themselves to be Christians on television and radio who proclaim the policies of those that deny climate change and support the wholesale destruction of our planet, think torture is acceptable, war is acceptable, capital punishment is a good thing, work to abolish affordable health care and promote income inequality and then pull up short and say “but abortion is bad.” If life is an issue – should not all life be an issue!  They apparently love the fetus and hate the child.
I wonder if the Church elite spent more time on the concepts of what it meant to love the Lord completely with heart, mind, and soul both with themselves and with their congregants whether or not their focus would adjust and modify? I often wonder if Church elite would open their hearts to what it meant to truly love the neighbor as themselves if that would bring about the same revolution that was started in the 2ndcentury?  Being Christian is a sacred honor and the Church elite would do well to not cheapen it by associating it with the political.
Jurgen Moltmann said the following:
“To know Jesus does not simply mean learning the facts of Christological dogma.  It means learning to know Him in the praxis of discipleship.”
My priest friend finally came to the conclusion that he would wear his collar and humbly be an example of the feet and hands of Jesus on earth.  If people came to him and were angry or hurt about his collar, he would use their pain as a way to bridge them back to a loving God. I too have decided, though at times reluctantly, to do the same.  Our humanity is what both brings harm and shame and then ultimate renewal to us all. This is the grace and opportunity we have in this age.
We are reminded at the beginning of His ministry when our Lord was tempted, that one of the temptations was to throw himself off the temple.  Had He succumbed to this temptation, He would have had the notoriety and name recognition of the powerful and the elite.  His fame would have come instantaneously.  This was not and has never been the way of the risen Jesus. He comes in the quiet places, to the disenfranchised, to those on the fringes of society.  I am reminded that my role is to find Him there and to counteract the noise of those who claim to know Him with my actions and faith.  My prayer is that we remember that in spite of all the noise, Jesus is found in the humble, in love of neighbor, in remembering to love God with all of our hearts, minds, and bodies.  May we embody our love of the Holy.