Can Faith Heal the Division In the US?

Can Faith Heal the Division In the US? April 9, 2024

Can our faith help heal the terrible division in the US? Courtesy of Tim Greenwood Ministries

 

The fact that the United States is deeply divided should not be news to anyone. In my view the division started with the election in 2000 and has grown progressively worse as time goes on. While the political and race division has always been there, we are divided on most things today. The big change has been the growing antipathy between opposing sides that has regressed to vile language and at times violence. Social media has been an accelerator of this in my view. Can we get back to a country where we may not agree, but at least show respect and be open to others opinions? Can our faith help heal that divide? Let’s take a look.

Sowing of Division

As people of faith, let’s not forget how the evil one works in our lives. His primary goal is to separate us from God, and one of his tools to do so is in sowing discord and division. in 2016, Pope Francis commented on how the devil seeks to divide the church, but I believe this applies to society in general as well:

“Pope Francis said, “The devil has two very powerful weapons to destroy the Church: divisions and money.” And this has happened from the beginning: “ideological, theological divisions that lacerate the Church. The devil sows jealousy, ambitions, ideas, but to divide! Or greed.” And, as happens after a war, “everything is destroyed. And the devil is pleased. And we, naïve as we are, are his game.” “It is a dirty war, that of divisions,” he repeated. “It’s like terrorism,” the war of gossiping in the community, that of language that kills”

We are walking right into his plan and we don’t even realize it. The animus against people of faith, especially Catholics, just adds fuel to the fire. Unfortunately, we have contributed to the animus, or at least I have been guilty as such. If you find yourself responding in a manner that lacks love then you have been pulled in as well.

Can Our Faith Help?

Since our faith is based in God, the answer is yes absolutely. It is critical that we look at how Jesus handled dissent and confrontation. He never backed away from it, but He approached with respect and didn’t react. Let’s look at some of what He has taught us:

John 13:34-35: I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Matthew 7:12: Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the law and the prophets.

Romans 12:10: love one another with mutual affection; anticipate one another in showing honor.

This is how we are charged to behave. A deacon in my church once summed it up perfectly “You don’t have to like them, but you gotta love them.” Jesus promises us a reward in Heaven:

Matthew 5:10-12: Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

How Can We Effect Change?

Change starts with us. We have to make a conscious decision to make the change in how we respond, and how we act. Once we make that decision just stick to it as you go through your day. Refuse to let anyone knock you off your game. I find “fasting” from social media helps tremendously. We are much “bolder” online than we are in person, and sometimes that “boldness” can lead down a rathole engaging in the vitriol that is common on social media. As Catholics we *will* be attacked for our faith and our beliefs. So what? We are asked to “turn the other cheek” and “pray for those who persecute you!” That may be incredibly hard, but Jesus went through so much more than we usually encounter and He asked for forgiveness to those responsible while He was on the cross. The only way we can possibly change the dialogue is to change our own dialogue and maybe this will help someone else realize that they need to change. We are asked to live the gospel, and in doing so we may help influence others.

“Preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words”

This quote is attributed to St. Francis of Assisi. These are very powerful words. Let’s accept the fact that the people and the challenges we encounter are part of God’s plan, and respond as Jesus would. It may be difficult at first, but try it for a day, a week, a month, or longer. I am sure you will find that it gets easier as you go along and if we can influence someone to tone down their rhetoric then maybe that person can influence someone else and there’s the chance that we will help bridge this great divide between us.

As always, comments are encouraged and welcome. If something is important enough to you to comment, then it is important enough for me to listen and respond and I will respond as quickly as I can.

God Bless

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Dennis McIntyre
In my early years I was a member of the Methodist church where I was baptized as a child and eventually became a lector for the church. I always felt I was a very faith-filled person, but that something was missing. My wife is Catholic and my children were baptized as Catholic and this helped me to find what I was looking for - to be part of something so much bigger than myself walking together with Jesus. I was welcomed into the Catholic faith and received the sacraments as a full member of the Catholic Church in 2004. I am a Spiritual Director, and very active in ministry serving as a Lector and Eucharistic Minister in addition to providing spiritual direction. I have spent time working with the sick and the terminally ill in local hospitals and Hospice Care centers and found these ministries to be very difficult, but extremely rewarding. You can read more about the author here.
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