“The Lord will bless His people with peace.”
This is one option for the responsorial for Sunday’s readings.
We have had anything but peace in our nation this week. An insurrectionist mob stormed the capitol building, hoping to find the vice president and members of Congress inside. They were fully armed with military gear and zip ties, and had gallows set up outside. A Confederate flag was waved in the capitol, for the first time ever. At least four people lost their lives, and our country lost the hope that we would have a peaceful transfer of power from one administration to the next.
The United States may not be at war, but we are not at peace.
God was, of course, speaking to the Israelites in Psalm 29; the United States did not exist when it was written. God’s chosen people were the Israelites. And while there are those who are eager to play the national anthem and fly flags within their church services and to proclaim our 45th president as God’s Chosen, there simply is no basis for believing that America is God’s favorite child today.
In Sunday’s second reading from Acts, Peter says, “In truth, I see that God shows no partiality. Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him.”
What is it to fear God and act uprightly?
In Mark, Jesus tells us the greatest commandment is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
He tells us in Luke in the story of the Good Samaritan that our neighbor is one who has mercy on us, even when we are a foreigner.
No wonder we have no peace.
We turn our neighbors away at the border when they are fleeing murder, exploitation, and starvation. We put prisoners to death in a justice system that is inherently racist and in a day and age when execution is unnecessary for the safety of the community. Our black, brown, and LGBT brothers and sisters are subject to racism and harassment and in some cases live in fear for their lives. We allow for the killing of babies in the womb, and many of those who pretend to be pro-life are against supporting a woman and her child once the baby is born. We have an astonishing rate of homelessness and suicide among our veterans. And instead of dealing with these issues, extending a neighborly hand to those in need, we argue whether science is real and call each other names.
We are looking around us at our actual neighbors, and seeing them as foreigners.
There is no quick solution to this. Simply telling someone to love their neighbor is a flaccid response if their neighbor actively hates them. We are way past asking why we can’t just all get along.
What I do know is that we need to stop acting like God’s Chosen People just because we live in America. It’s time to fear God and act uprightly.
May God have mercy on us all.