The “Occupy Movement” is a little more than six months old now. In the midst of the demonstrations and protests that sprang up all over America, we have seen signs of solidarity as those who gather proudly announce, “We are the 99 percent.” Others have picked up on the ideals and can use the slogans to show forth a sense of solidarity for whatever cause we support.
After the HHS mandate for private and self-insured employers provide coverage even for services they find objectionable or immoral, the battle cry in favor of religious freedom became, “We are all Catholic now.” Here, a recognition that an infringement on one group’s rights is a threat to all of us brought about a sense of unity both within and outside the Church.
After the shooting death of young Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, has raised the ire of many and seen a cry for justice as many protesters have chosen to identify themselves with the call “I am Trayvon.”
While all of these movements have an eye toward what we’d call justice, we need to be very careful as well. Along with this identification comes a lot of division as well. Recently in our culture, there has been greater and greater fractioning of our society as “sides” set up on opposite sides of issues. The ubiquitous labels of “conservative” and “liberal” slide easily into place, and the old bickering begins with every fresh episode in the news.
However, as Christians, we need to take great care here. Yes, the Christian attitude calls us to one or another “side” on different issues. However, it cannot be so automatic that we don’t even think about what the values are that place us on that side. There is no “Catholic” or even “Christian” political party. We cannot be authentic to our faith and fully behind one or another political ideology. First and foremost, we belong to Christ. And He – God-made-man – identified Himself with things, too. He – a first-century, Palestinian man, of Jewish faith and heritage – identified Himself with us, human as we are.
We enter now into Holy Week, and we celebrate all that this identification implied for Jesus: controversy, suffering and death – and glory beyond. However, not for division did Jesus join heaven to earth; nor can we be agents of division either. Remember:
Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all and in all (Col 3:11).