What do we do with January 6?
If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. (1 Cor 13:1)
I have written many drafts trying to decide what to say about the events of January 6. I have been angry, sad, disappointed, and disgusted. I have not had love. Therefore, I would not speak. Those were not the words God wanted me to say.
This is what Christ calls us to do in all things. It’s hard, I know. It’s hard to love when you are angry. It’s hard to love people who hurt you. It’s hard to love when you don’t feel loved. It’s hard to love when you feel attacked or ignored or dismissed.
The thing is that love doesn’t permit all things. It may endure all things, but it doesn’t permit all things. The events of January 6 were wrong. Period. A mob trying to impose their will on the government is not how this country should ever be run. A President calling for that mob to do so is not how this country should be led. That is clear. What should also be clear is that the events didn’t start that morning. They have been building for a long time. We have seen a growing division in our country of judgment and dismissal of anyone who disagrees with us. We talk less, shout more.
There is a teaching in the Catholic faith that calls us to avoid the “near occasion of sin.” The closer we get to the things that tempt us, the easier it is for us to submit to that temptation. We rarely go from perfect innocence to evil. There are many small steps along the way.
There was a line that was crossed on January 6, but that line is much too far down the road. We can and should expect more than we have been getting lately. More from ourselves. More from our elected officials. More from our leaders. More from our communities. For too long, we have overlooked the moral shortcomings of our leaders because we believe we have no other option. We can’t do that anymore.
Our faith calls us to bring Christ’s love into the world.
We can and should make room to praise the good and correct the bad wherever it is. We have lost the ability to criticize our own party/group/platform and to praise the other. That only leads to the type of extremism that we are seeing today. But we can only criticize and praise well if we have love for the person in front of us. Love doesn’t allow all things, but it does endure all things. Love knows that we can do better than this, and calls us to do so.
There is much good in the world today. There is hope. We have to find it. We have to share it. We have to be it.
With God’s grace, we can do it.
I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who create dissensions and obstacles, in opposition to the teaching that you learned; avoid them. For such people do not serve our Lord Christ but their own appetites, and by fair and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the innocent. For while your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, I want you to be wise as to what is good, and simple as to what is evil; then the God of peace will quickly crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. (Romans 16:17-20)