Primary day and God’s work in the world

My bulletin column for Sunday April 10. The two readings I cite are Acts 9:1-20 and John 21:1-19

Today is Tuesday, November 5 – the day that we in Wisconsin are voting for a variety of elected offices as well as the presidential primary election. It has been a primary season like no other I’ve witnessed. At any rate, as we recover from the robo-calls, TV ads, heated rhetoric, news coverage, opinions, etc., we might do well to recall that God can and does work in and through all kinds of circumstances and situations, sometimes in ways that we can’t dream or imagine.

In our first reading, we have the example of Saul, a man who was vehement in his zeal for destroying Christianity and persecuting Christians. And in the midst of his rage and fury, something happens: he encounters Jesus! God’s plan? To use this guy to spread the gospel! In fact, when a saintly follower of Christ is urged by the Holy Spirit to baptize Saul, he says to God, in essence, “Um, are you sure?” Saul, as we know, becomes Paul, and it is in and through his witness, ministry and single-minded dedication that Christianity is spread and shared, in some of pretty interesting places and it is embraced by some pretty interesting people.

In our gospel reading, we see St. Peter, “the rock”, the one who swore that, although everyone else may fall away, he would not, meeting the risen Christ. You may recall that during the “trial” of Jesus, Peter denied even knowing our Lord three times. In today’s, gospel that same Christ, now raised in glory, asks St. Peter three times, “Do you love me?” Peter has returned, has sought forgiveness, and three times professes his love. Like St. Paul, he would go on to be central in preaching and sharing the gospel of Christ.

Think about it: a zealous persecutor and one who in fear crumbled and said, “Jesus who?” become foundational in spreading the Easter message. God looked at them both and decided He could work with them, through them and at times in spite of them. God worked that way then, and so often God works that way now.

Peter and Paul are not on the ballot and they would not have run if they could have – they’d be too busy talking to people about Jesus. I am suggesting that nothing and no one is beyond the grasp of God’s love and that we would do well not to give in to despair as we have a way greater, more loving and real leader in Jesus Christ. Yes, we should make good decisions at the polls, based on our faith and our conscience, but in the end this is God’s world, we are God’s children, and we are called to love God and our neighbor.

So, I can’t say I’ve been real impressed with our national life during this primary season. There is much that simply evokes within me sadness and anger. At the same time, I am constantly buoyed in hope by the many, many examples all around me of faithful love, service and people seeking to live their faith in so many wonderful and creative ways. And that’s how God works and that’s what God does. There is no place for cynicism – let us live in the hope of our Lord.

Compared to Good Friday and the gift of new life and redemption that is ours through the miracle of Easter, this primary season is pretty small potatoes.

God’s peace to you amidst it all!

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