Check any news outlet these days, whether in print or digital, on your phone or on your TV, and the top articles are bound to be divisive and in many cases critical of someone, some group, or some idea. The narrative that ‘nice’ or ‘positive’ stories don’t sell is a well-known trope at this point – but nonetheless sadly seems to remain true. With election season nearing full swing, the storylines and media surrounding us are only bound to increase in emphasizing the differences in one another, whether ideological, political, economic, demographic, or otherwise.
By way of a brief introduction, my name is Alex Lerangis and since joining St. Charles last year I have been a member of our parish’s Young Professionals Ministry. During a number of our monthly meetings this summer our discussion has focused on the social issues prominent in our community and how we can rely on our faith and the scripture to direct our actions. Despite the difficulty and uncomfortableness that these topics pose, our conversations to date have been respectful and enlightening, but more importantly, comforting and hopeful.
One particularly powerful theme that has come out of our discussions has been the idea, rooted in our faith as Catholics, that there is far more that binds us together and that we have in common than that separates and differentiates us. At the most fundamental level – at our very core – we are all God’s creations. Creations that are part of one body and blessed with God’s love and mercy – striving individually and collectively to fulfill the examples set by Jesus and Mary.
During this election season, one that is especially fraught with social tension and anger, I pray that, empowered by the knowledge of our fundamental oneness, our actions are guided far more by the understanding of our similarities under God than our differences – one that inspires us to act with compassion and empathy. I count myself very fortunate to be part of this St. Charles community where I see that idea emphasized and acted upon each day.
These days I find the Gospel of Matthew especially poignant – specifically Matthew 7:
Do not judge, or you too will be judged.
For in the same way you judge others,
you will be judged,
and with the measure you use,
it will be measured to you.
Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye
and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?
How can you say to your brother,
‘Let me take the speck out of your eye’,
when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?
You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye,
and then you will see clearly
to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
Enter through the narrow gate.
For wide is the gate and broad is the road
that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.
But small is the gate and
narrow the road that leads to life,
and only a few find it.