Return of the Prodigal Son by Pompeo Batoni - 1773

Evolution for the Catholic Student

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Who is our Father?

Who is our Father?

          I had an interesting conversation the other day with a neighbor as I was out on my driveway drying out all our camping gear from our very wet visit to Yosemite after Easter.  He saw the Rick Santorum sticker on my car (which I will sadly be removing now that the senator has withdrawn from the race).

          He opened up a political conversation and shortly into it told me he was squarely on the opposite side of the political aisle as Mr. Santorum.  He said something I found quite incredible: “I think Obama is the best thing since sliced bread.”

          My shock was obvious, but we proceeded to have a respectful and friendly conversation.  I certainly don’t mean to be insulting, and found him to be a very nice man, but the logic in much of what he said was somewhat confused.  There was one statement he made, however, that helped me understand where he was coming from, and why I couldn’t relate.

          He said, “I see the President kind of like a father, and we are his children.  In every family there is someone who has the final say, and we just have to trust that the father knows what’s best for his family.”

          As much as I like this man, and do not mean to insult him personally, I would venture to say this kind of thinking is extraordinarily dangerous.  In many ways it is what has been behind the rise of Communism in certain parts of the world, as well as other abuses of human freedoms and basic rights.

          Not surprisingly, this man made clear that he is not religious.  When we do not recognize that God is our Father, we are at great risk of finding a surrogate.  Unlike God, who truly does know what’s right for His children, politicians do not, and sadly, more often than not, have personal self-interest foremost at heart.

          God deserves our unwavering devotion; politicians do not.  Currently, the President is at war with the Catholic Church, a war which he declared.  If God is our Father, we will defend His Law against governmental abuses.  If the President is our father, we will see the Church as the enemy.

          I would not have suspected that my neighbor’s thinking was actually subscribed to by anyone, but having heard it from him, I can begin to understand why so many of my countrymen adopt philosophies I have such trouble understanding.

          What, then, must be our response?  We know, as Catholics, that patriotism is a virtue, but nationalism is a vice.  And though we should respect the office of the Presidency, any leader that denies God’s Law must be opposed with vigor.

          What about our friends and neighbors, however, who don’t just support Mr. Obama, but think as radically as my neighbor professed to?  I don’t know the answer to the problem, but I suspect it is not a simple one.

          I do know, however, that I will not get far with him discussing the role of the President without first discussing the place of God.  Last week I discussed the separation of powers, the branches of government, and his disdain for President Bush, who held the same office as Mr. Obama currently does.  I didn’t get very far.

          God is real.  Our need for Him is real.  If we refuse to put Him in His rightful place, we will put someone or something else there.  The result is disorder in our lives.  This principle applies to all people, including ourselves any time we put something else in the place in our lives which is properly God’s.  That is perhaps why the First Commandment was placed first.

          And, as in the case of my neighbor, who is an intelligent and friendly man, with many legitimate things to say, prayer must be at the base of our relationship.  He is open to discussion, and any time God blesses us with someone in our lives that does not know Him, but is open to us, we must find a way to show that person the God for whom they unconsciously long.  That can not be accomplished without prayer.