I don’t know what it’s like in the Philippines but back in Britain when it comes to election time you just have the one choice to make—who do I want to represent me in the parliament? And I find that hard enough! How do you get on here? Where everybody seems to be elected … senators, governors, judges, police officials, school boards, … and everything has to be decided by vote … “yes on 5″ or “no on E.”
How do you take it all in? I mean, faced with all those choices on Election Day, how do you remember what you want to vote for? Or how do you even make up your mind in the first place? Some of the stuff seems so technical and some of the flyers that come round to help you choose seem to contradict each other. And that’s not considering the TV ads. Davis and Lundgren trying to out do each other in sleaze and innuendo and downright lies. They can’t both be telling the truth. They’re probably both telling lies. One of them will be elected, lies and all. It frightens me.
It frightens me especially that here, like nowhere else in the world, each person has so much power and so much responsibility, that it’s almost impossible to use it carefully and properly. On so many issues it’s going to come down to money—which side spends most; hires the most devious campaign manager; shells out for the best ads; slings the most effective mud. Who can blame people for not voting? It’s only a cynical lottery anyway. And what does it matter who I vote for because once they’re in power they’ll do whatever they want anyway. Who can blame people for not voting?
I think God can. And does.
Today, All Saints day, we find ourselves calling on all those holy men and women through the ages who have chosen well. We celebrate them because of their good choices. Sometimes big choices, heroic choices, that won them martyrdom. Sometimes little daily choices that shaped their lives into a pattern that Jesus might have lived if he were in their shoes. But all of them choices they made from listening to God moving in their hearts.
The astonishing thing is that so few of the saints we Honor today ever had the freedom and responsibility that we do: the chance to vote. And that’s a problem for us because we don’t yet know how to be holy people and political people at the same time because we have no examples. Our saints have taught us how to be holy in our private lives, they have shown us about charity, heroism, Honor, piety, virtue, forgiveness, resistance. They have shown us how to die and how to live … but they have not shown us how to vote.
And that’s not because it doesn’t matter to God … just that this is the first time the chance has come up. So, come Tuesday, it’s not just this proposition or that politician at stake but our own holiness. Are we saints in the making, are we children of God, growing to be more and more like God … or not. Big choice. Big responsibility.
But how do we decide? I don’t think we’ll know for sure until we have a bunch of new saints who were good voters, good politically holy people. And that’ll have to wait. But in the meantime what can we do to choose as Jesus would choose. Number one, in my opinion, is to drop the slogans: the politicians brag about being pro-choice or pro-life depending upon who they think they are talking to. And they lie too. So counting issues like that is a mess. I think we have to do a great and very presumptuous thing … step into Jesus’ shoes, see the thing his way, and vote the way he would vote.
How to do that? There’s probably no better way than trying to get into the skin of the man who spoke the words we heard this morning: all those ‘blessed’s. Where is Jesus’ heart? With those whose spirit is broken, those who have lost what they loved, those without a voice, those who yearn for the bread of justice. On the side of mercy not punishment, at home with passion not comfort, with the one’s who risk peace beyond the safe confines of violence.
But how does that fill out the ballot? Who knows? There’s no way to predict what you’ll see through his eyes if you ask to. Or what you’ll feel if you ask to feel with his heart. But who knows what might happen if you tried it. To you, to this city, to this state. If we all let Jesus vote through us.
Add comment November 1st, 1998