What are we hearing?

By: By Barbara Roedel

Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sept. 7

Ezekiel 33:7-9; Psalm 95:1-2,6-7,8-9; Romans 13:8-10; Matthew 18:15-20

Today’s readings challenge us to be active listeners. In the first reading, the Lord tells Ezekiel that he is to listen and act when he hears the Lord’s voice. The Lord advises the prophet that he must warn anyone the Lord tells him to or he will be held accountable for refusing to act as instructed.

The psalmist gives us instruction that we are to receive God’s voice joyfully, gratefully. We are not to harden our hearts to the Lord’s voice but to revere it.

St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans tells us that love must motivate our actions. The fulfillment of the law is to “love your neighbor as yourself.”

And the Gospel tells us to reconcile with one another in the event of conflict.

Listen, act, receive, motivate, reconcile. We are called into active and full participation with God in our world today. So what are we hearing?

For the last two weeks, almost everyone has heard the presidential candidates talk about how they will act if they are elected president. It would be easy to turn away from the constant coverage because we are tired of being deluged by the unending sound bytes and debates. But that may be a hardening of our hearts to a very important responsibility we will face in November, namely actively participating in public life. To make a difference in our society, we must engage in the election process.

In the document, “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops encourages us to become familiar with the issues that face our country today so that we can vote in November with a “well-formed conscience.” The bishops tell us that voting is not optional, but rather a vital part of living our faith. As Catholics, we are called to vote our moral conscience, which is formed by the teachings of Jesus Christ, Scripture, and the church’s doctrines especially Catholic social teaching.

There are several ways to be an active listener in this process. First, pray that you will listen with your heart, listen with love, to the needs of our country and world. Prayerfully discern what the issues confronting our country are and which candidate you believe will be most effective in meeting those needs.

Gather with others and discuss the candidates’ positions on racism, economic inequality, human rights violations, abortion, torture, care of our environment, and prison reform. Do you hear promises that will profit an elite few or do you hear concern for the common good of all? Do you hear rhetoric concerning proposed policies or concrete steps of how a candidate will eliminate poverty, build peace, attain health care for all people, and ensure education for all children?

Attend lectures and workshops that educate you on the issues and help you to form a moral choice that will shape our world for the next four years. One of those opportunities is the Diocese of Peoria Institute for Catholic Social Ministry, which is planned for Saturday, Oct. 18, at Blessed Sacrament Church in Morton. The speaker will be John Carr, secretary of the USCCB Department of Social Development and World Peace, who will talk about how faith informs our vote. (For more information, see the flyer posted on the Web site of the Diocese of Peoria at www.cdop.org.)

Advocate by talking to your legislators on issues that promote justice, global solidarity, and peace-building initiatives.

Then vote. Vote as an act of love by making an informed choice, because we are accountable for actively working for the good of all of our brothers and sisters. Only then will we achieve reconciliation with one another.

Patriotism is often heightened during an election process, and we frequently hear people singing “God Bless America.” On election day, America is challenged to bless God. Which candidate will best help the United States do that?

The mission director at Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Peoria, Barbara Roedel holds a master’s degree in theology from Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. She is a member of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Peoria Heights.

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