Remind them to be under the control of magistrates and authorities, to be obedient, to be open to every good enterprise. They are to slander no one, to be peaceable, considerate, exercising all graciousness toward everyone. (Titus 3:1-2)
Let every person be subordinate to the higher authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been established by God. Therefore, whoever resists authority opposes what God has appointed, and those who oppose it will bring judgment upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear to good conduct, but to evil. Do you wish to have no fear of authority? Then do what is good and you will receive approval from it, for it is a servant of God for your good. (Romans 13:1-3)
Obey your leaders and defer to them, for they keep watch over you and will have to give an account, that they may fulfill their task with joy and not with sorrow, for that would be of no advantage to you. (Hebrews 13:17)
And all this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and given us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. (2 Corinthians 5:18-20)
First of all, then, I ask that supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone, for kings and for all in authority, that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all devotion and dignity. This is good and pleasing to God our savior, who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:1-4)
We have just completed a very difficult election year. We know that many politicians have been elected who are promoting actions that go against Catholic teaching, including abortion and euthanasia. For many, this has lead to discouragement and pessimism. For us as Catholic men, what should be our reaction and response to the current election? To aid in answering this question, let’s first look at some Scriptures.
In his Letter to Titus, St. Paul reminds us to be obedient to civil authorities and “open to every good enterprise,” whatever its origin (Titus 3:1). Both in our private lives and as citizens, we all live under authority.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the leaders we elected took Paul’s advice to heart-“to slander no one, to be peaceable, considerate, exercising all graciousness toward everyone” (Titus 3:2)? That would be a lot like living in the kingdom of God, wouldn’t it?
Paul, however, is not naïve. He knows that those reading his words live under the pagan brutality of imperial Rome. He also knows from personal experience about the corrupt local officials who were subservient to Rome. That’s probably why his advice is addressed not to government leaders but to members of the Church.
Paul encourages us to obey those in authority over us, unless there is a direct conflict between the civil law and the law of God (see also Romans 13:1-3 and Hebrews 13:17). Without sacrificing truthfulness, we are to slander no one but to look for some good in everyone. We are to encourage every good enterprise that makes life better for humankind, no matter whose idea it was or what motive they may have had in suggesting it (Titus 3:1-2).
But it’s not enough just to be good, obedient citizens. As temples of the Holy Spirit, we have much to offer. We need to stay active in our political process, our parish, and our neighborhoods. Now is not the time to lesson our resolve to answer God’s call to work actively for a culture of life and other just causes. As “ambassadors for Christ,” he has “given us a ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18-20). He has called us to work for peace and reconciliation among people of different backgrounds and opinions. He calls us, too, to be gracious and considerate toward everyone and to work to protect the lives of all, especially those society may consider disposable or worthless.
Most importantly, as Paul tells Timothy (1 Timothy 2:1-2), I believe our key response to the 2008 elections should be to pray diligently for those who lead our national and local governments, even if they do not acknowledge God’s authority and even if they favor actions in opposition to God. According to the Scriptures, their authority still comes from God (Romans 13:1), and God can use them to advance his purposes. Let us pray that our leaders experience a deep conversion to Christ and be transformed into holy men and women of God.
Finally, may we all be sources of blessing and inspiration to those who lead us. And may our leaders all dedicate themselves to building a culture of life and to safeguarding the common good of all.
“O God, the whole universe is subject to you, yet we live in a political reality that can seem far removed from your kingdom. Bless those who lead our country. Correct their errors and sins against you, and strengthen every good impulse. Draw them to you and transform them into holy men and women of God.”
[Many thanks to The Word Among Us for allowing us to adapt material from daily meditations in their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission.]
Questions for Reflection/Discussion by Catholic Men
- 1. Take a few minutes to read and meditate on the Scriptures above on our response to those in authority. What do you think God is trying to say to you through them?
- 2. How would you characterize your response to the 2008 elections? Was it one of discouragement or trust in God?
- 3. Based on the ideas presented in the article, what are some positive ways you can respond to the election? Are you willing to pray for our elected leaders on a regular basis, even those you strongly disagree with?
- 4. If you are in a men’s group, take some time at the end of your meeting to pray for our elected leaders that they would truly act in accordance with God’s will. Use the prayer at the end of the article as a starting point.