When Voting, Think Of The Children

When Voting, Think Of The Children November 3, 2022

Phil Roeder from Des Moines: Vote For Kids / Wikimedia Commons

Pope Francis told us that his special prayer concerns for the month of November are for children, especially for those suffering in harsh, cruel living conditions. As reported by CNA, he implored us to keep them all in our prayer intentions: “Let us pray for children who are suffering, especially for those who are homeless, orphans, and victims of war.”[1] He further indicated that all children are to be our concern, which is why, if and when we find children being abandoned or ignored, we are all to blame. “Each marginalized child, abandoned by his or her family, without schooling, without health care, is a cry! A cry that rises up to God and shames the system that we adults have built.  […] An abandoned child is our fault.” [2] We must take our responsibility seriously. “We can no longer allow them to feel alone and abandoned — they are entitled to an education and to feel the love of a family so they know that God does not forget them.”[3]

We are to be God’s hands and feet, walking to those in need, giving them the love and support they need, making sure they are not abandoned, not now, nor in  the future. This is why, though prayer is important, we must do more than simply pray. We must act upon our prayer intentions,  taking the grace we receive in prayer and use it to help make sure our good desires are fulfilled.  We must do our part. After praying for the children, we must do what we can to make the world a better place, especially for those who have had, until now, no one speaking on their behalf.

If we are to engage the Christian faith, we must follow what James said, taking care of those who are unjustly afflicted: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (Jas. 1:27 RSV). James didn’t say pure religious is found in those who merely pray for those in need. James made it clear, true, undefiled religion, is an active faith. Prayer helps us achieve our goals, but if we ignore our responsibility, thinking praying alone will achieve what we want, we will likely see things become much worse, not better.

God, in the incarnation, shows us that even God does not sit back in quietude, but rather, God takes an active role in the world, working to help all of us. If we follow after Jesus, if we believe in him, we are expected to build upon what he began in his earthy ministry: “”Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son; if you ask anything in my name, I will do it” (Jn. 14:12-14 RSV). We are to be incorporated into Christ (cf. Gal. 3:27). Once we are, we should allow Jesus to work in and through us, and so what we ask in his name, will be done, so long as we are willing to be the vessel of that achievement (but if we think we are just to ask and do nothing after, we have misunderstood the message of Jesus).

We are expected to change society, making sure the dictates of justice are implemented. Sometimes, this is to be done by laws, sometimes it is to be done through exhortation. When exhortation is enough, and making laws will only make things worse, we should focus on exhortation; when exhortation is not enough, and laws will make things better, we will need to engage both. When dealing with justice in relation to children, we must look to the difficulties which they face, figuring out the root causes of those problems, and the ways those root causes can be eliminated.

Those of us living in democracies need to promote, support, and vote for those who will work for the common good. If we see one politician wanting to help poor children, or migrant children, receive the justice which is their due, and another actively working to hinder if not eliminate such justice, we must vote for those who would implement positive change, and stand against those who would cause further harm. Those who ignore the environment, and what we are leaving behind for the children of today, let alone for the future, also find themselves far from engaging the justice children need. Because they are unwilling to embrace environmental justice and have no problem ignoring the plight of future generations, they will find their indifference will be judged and condemned by those generations they have abandoned as well as by the just judge who will look to and see how we have helped or didn’t help those in need.

We are not to ignore children and their needs, because they, in their vulnerability, have a unique relationship with God. “See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven “ (Matt. 18:10 RSV). Indeed, we are told if we do not provide for the welfare of our family, which includes our children and future generations, we have not embraced the justice and charity expected of us, and in this way, it can be said we have abandoned the Christian faith. “If any one does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his own family, he has disowned the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim. 5:8 RSV).

We must make sure our nations have the best leaders possible, those who will take care of the people, including, and especially the most vulnerable in society, children who are poor, children who are abandoned by their families, children who are homeless, children who  have become refugees, and children who are hungry and sick and have no place to go to get the food or medical attention they need. Those who would cut back or hinder aid to children are not to be trusted with positions of power and authority, while those who would help them, at least in that regard, show they care for the common good, and in that regard, deserve our attention to see if they offer policies which will truly make things better (or at least, not worse). Hopefully, American Catholics, when voting this November, and other Catholics, when it is their time to vote, will heed the words of Pope Francis. They need to embrace his prayer intention by electing those who show real care and concern for children, and not those who want to eliminate the social safety net which gives them food, shelter, and medical care they need, or who would ignore the environment and the harm climate change will cause not just to the future, but the children alive today.


[1] A.C. Wimmer, “Why Pope Francics’ November Prayer Intention Is For Children Who Suffer” in Catholic News Agency (10-31-2022).

[2] Ibid.

[3] Vatican News Staff Writer, “Pope’s November Prayer Intention: ‘For Children Who Suffer’” in  Vatican News (10-31-22).

 

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