Look To The End Beyond
Feast of the Transfiguration, August 6, 2016, Year C
The Responsorial (Psalm 97) calls us to remain conscious of a basic truth we sometimes forget: “The Lord is king, the most high over all the earth.”
We need to remember the vision in Daniel 34: 7:9-14: “To him was given dominion and glory and kingship, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him.” We need to remember this because what we see on earth often seems contrary to it. The “dominion and glory and kingship” that all, or even most peoples and nations recognize is not always God’s. If we had to pick the god that most nations primarily serve, it would be either Mammon, god of wealth (Matthew 6:24), or Mars, god of war. These are the two values that seem to determine most government policies, rule most political debates, and swing most elections. But is that really so bad?
The goal of politics is to promote the “common good.” Aristotle identifies this all-inclusively with the “happiness that is the goal of human actions.” This makes the goal of politics the “best of ends,” (see Ethics, 1099b30). But governments usually focus on the more restricted good of their own citizens only, and only in this world.
This keeps politics distinct from religion and results in our goverment giving high priority to prosperity and defense. But even in pursuit of these goals, governments must not exempt themselves from the rule of God, especially in a country that defines itself as “one nation under God,” appeals in its Declaration of Independence to the “Laws of Nature and of Nature's God” and claims its citizens are “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” In pursuing the common good, however defined, governments must not forget that “The Lord is king, the most high over all the earth.”
The vision of Jesus transfigured in 2Peter 1:16-19 and Luke 9:28-36 prefigured our own transfiguration by grace, the gift of “sharing in the divine life of God.” For us who have “become Christ” by Baptism, everything in human life is transfigured.
Christians are “aliens and exiles” on this earth (1Peter 2:10-11), no matter how passionately involved we are in reforming and renewing its social structures and policies. We pursue a “common good” that is as different from what people perceive it to be as Jesus transfigured on the mountain top was different from what people perceived him to be on ground level. “Our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior” (Philippians 3:20). The happiness that we know as the real “goal of human actions” is the divine union with God that he has made our destiny, and which we can only receive through “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Politics is not the “best of ends” for Christians, for whom political goals are often too exclusive and too short-sighted. Christians aim first at the “glory of God,” then at the common good of the whole human family, both in this world and the next.
Initiative: Give God’s life: Recognize “America first” as a denial of the faith. We are third.