Redwood Journal

Writings by Harry Martin, Dcn.



About Politics and being Pro-Life

 In light of the fact that concerns have been expressed about my inclusion of comments related to political issues I feel it appropriate to reply.
First thank you to each of you for your insights and convictions.  They are deeply valued and important.  It is not my intent to devalue or offend anyone.  It is always my intent that we all are challenged to pray and consider what is shared…and GROW in the faith and our walk with Christ.  As those of you who have shared in the Bible studies at St. John’s and St. Peter’s know dealing with issues,  however controversial, with courteous, sincere and prayerful discussion in the light of Scripture and the Catechesis of our Church is something I believe to be essential.  My reflections hold those same convictions.  As for concerns that what I share my offend some and result in less ‘followers’ that is a dynamic I have been well aware of from the earliest days of my ministry.  But it has not and cannot be the basis of my sharing.  I freely recognize what I share is but simple insights and that I am no theologian or Bible scholar.  I recognize and respect the higher offices of the priests and bishops, the whole people of God.  I also recognize their humanity that is shared with us all.  To simplify,  I am only a very simple servant of our Lord Jesus Christ.  I seek to share that which I believe He asks me to share.  That I share imperfectly and fail to share all He would ask I also, sadly recognize and ask His and your forgiveness.  I seek only to be the simple faithful servant I am.
Now about including political issues:   As a teacher I strongly believe we must face the issues in our world in the full light of Truth, Who is Jesus Christ.  That means we need to recognize issues such as the pandemic, the fires and political issues.  In my reflections leading up to the election I sought to do so but especially to foster a mature discernment of the broad picture of what is occurring.  What I said in the reflection on Sunday was perhaps political but it was also my honest observation of what I see as a man who is sadly mentally unwell.  I meant no disrespect to anyone.  I shared only from my experiences of working with and for those who struggle with mental health problems.  That this sad dynamic is having an immense impact on the Constitutional well being of our country I would think is seen by most.  I see it as a preeminent reality as we are called to celebrate and honor Christ our King.
For everyone and especially for those troubled by those few words please read and reflect on the entire message I shared.  No it wasn’t about abortion, politics or the pandemic.  Those are but relevant points leading to what I believe is so urgent and needed.  Christ is our King.  And we need to serve Him with all our hearts as He enables and guides each of us through these intense trials.
But about abortion and the political battles in our country and world.  First I would hope all would know I am opposed, passionately, to abortion.  I see the sacredness of life of the unborn to be an indisputable truth.  However I believe in what some may call:  “Consistent Whole Life”.  I see each human soul, whether unborn, devoutly faithful to God and Church, poor ,homeless person , extraordinarily wealthy, Republican or Democrat, in prison or even on death row, an immigrant, legal or illegal, each man, woman, girl or boy to be as sacred as the unborn child.  I believe also that the majority of those who procure or support or even perform abortions do so without the full truth, compassion and support they need to realize there is a better way. So as a result I cannot agree that abortion is the preeminent matter. (Please understand the words of the USCCB were NOT ex cathedra and neither is their agreement among the Bishops on this). 
This leads me to a long held conviction of the battle for the unborn.  I feel it has become far too political. It is a matter of moral values, faith values, values of the heart. Values that politics and politicians are not known to excel in.  It saddens me that other matters of respect life are of lesser importance to so many pro-life causes.  Euthanasia is recognized as wrong but rarely addressed with matching concern.  Health care, providing care for the sacred life of these already BORN is often seen by some pro-life folks as a socialist cause.  Response to refugees and immigrants that sees no value to those struggling to escape oppression or of families with their children worthy only to be caged and sent away seems, to me cruel and brutal.  

I know this may strike many as naive and absurd but I believe that prayerfully we CAN listen, dialogue and work together on common values of LIFE.  For traditional pro-life voters to listen, learn and realize WITH those who may embrace pro-abortion, pro-choice stances that common ground can be discovered.  And from that common ground bridges built to overcome these evils.   In other words I do not have much faith in the political approaches in dealing with these matters.  I do have faith that Christ our King will, through His Holy Spirit lead all who are willing to grow in their realization of the sacredness of all life, unborn or aged, holy and pious or struggling and broken.  

This discussion is much like those shared in our Bible studies. Hopefully we may soon return to those blessings. But the sharing of our hearts and our seeking of our King for grace and guidance will only grow, regardless of the topic or times.

God be with you all as we seek to protect and cherish all life as a sacred gift.

TESTS ~ Taking or Giving

26th Sunday of Ordinary Time ~ 27 September 2020

Mass Readings: I: Ezekiel 18:25-28; Responsorial: Psalm 25; II: Philippians 2: 1- 5; Gospel: Matthew 21:28-32

TESTS! Most of us generally would not be excited or happy if told we needed to be tested. Whether it were a test of knowledge (say Algebra..No Thank you!). Or a test for skill, perhaps for your drivers license renewal, these would not be something most people would rush in which to participate. If the subject was one in which you were comfortable and skilled then it could be a welcomed experience. It could offer an opportunity to show your talents. But generally tests are not something for us.

Jesus, ever the Master Teacher, had no problem testing His followers or those who opposed Him. Our Gospel today begins with Jesus asking: “What is your opinion?” Jesus did not hesitate to test. But our Lord also was willing to be tested. In the wilderness, with His disciples, the hungry multitudes or those who opposed Him, Jesus took His test with courage and grace.

For us taking tests is not usually seen as an opportunity of courage and grace. They are more something we would prefer to avoid. OR.. give to others.

It is far easier to apply our favorite tests to others. Especially if it concerns matter in which our convictions are strong. Matters of faith and religious practices (or lack there of). Family…many family members have clear tests of how other members of the clan should behave and act. Work… supervisors, co-workers, customers or clients all are worthy of being evaluated. And, of course POLITICS! Is this person conservative or liberal? Are they credible? Indeed applying these litmus tests of life TO OTHERS is usually a matter of ease and readiness.

Litmus Tests

It is necessary is that we be ready to test, in the love of God, others AND ourselves in honest courageous discernment. TESTS, the Taking and Giving are a part of life. [Note: tests, discernment are not the same as judging].

The Bible readings we share today give us a powerful lesson on the choices, the tests, the discernments of life. Ezekiel, the prophet and Jesus, in the Gospel speak of this reality. We make choices, discern to do what is right or wrong. We also, by God’s grace, recognize the need of “changing the answer”, i.e., repenting when we realize a wrong choice has been made.

Tests, Discernment, Choices…

But the facing of these tests, these discernments is not as easy as we may like. In the realm of politics, for example, these litmus tests, these discernments are, by many, boiled down to one subject. The crucial matter of abortion is, for many THE ONLY litmus test of support or opposition. IF a candidate says the right words to their hoped for supporters about the subject then many will not bother with any further consideration, even if the practices and answers defy the truth.

Whatever the test subject, whether it be for others or ourself, the Word of God provides abundant guidance to faithfully grow through the tests and discernments of life. In the Psalm for today we find the first essential step:

PRAY: ” YOUR ways, O Lord, make known to me, teach me YOUR paths.” From Psalm 25, our responsorial for today. The emphasis are mine.

LISTEN: And from the Epistle the Holy Spirit directs us to look for:

Encouragement in Christ ~ Does this decision, this person, action bring encouragement, a clearer relationship IN CHRIST?

Solace in Love ~ Is there the compassion, a greater strength of GOD’s love?

Participation in the Spirit ~ Does this action, answer, person bring greater participation in the Spirit of God? Or of self? Ego? Who is glorified?

Compassion and mercy ~ Does the answer, discernment I am following build compassion and mercy? Or does it foster division and judgment?

Being of the same mind, having the same love; In full accord, of the same mind ~ Is there a growing unity of faith and understanding or an increase of the “them vs. us” strife so popular today?

NOTHING from selfishness or conceit ~ Is there an attitude of ego and “I am the only one who can do this? Or is there the building of…community?

In humility consider others better ~ Does the answer I see nurture humility and a respect for the worth of others or does it lead further up onto a pedestal of exclusiveness reeking of arrogance?

HAVE THIS MIND IN YOU WHICH WAS IN CHRIST JESUS. Will the answers I choose help myself and others better grow in the self-giving love of Jesus? Will God be glorified?

These holy litmus papers will enable us to honestly discern in ourselves whether or not we are faithfully growing in Christ. These holy litmus tests will enable us to take the challenges we face in the church and discern, as the people of God, the graces of the Holy Spirit in which we are in need. And as we face the extraordinary tests of this election season we can prayerfully, hopefully realize that we need to grow beyond a single litmus test that we may better understand the fuller, more honest character of a candidate or an issue.

We are facing many tests, many discernments in this season of life. May we, together, allow the mind of Christ to show us the truth that will make us free to be of one heart in Christ. May we realize we are being called beyond the divisions and destructions and egos of the devil and that we are being called to be one people in God through Christ. We are people in the world, but not of it. The Kingdom of God can never be confined to a political, religious or idealogical group or label. The tests we SHARE are calling us to seek first…CHRIST.

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