In an election year where there has been so much division, I think we all recognize that there is a widespread experience of disillusionment and disappointment. Not in decades have voters been so dissatisfied with the two leading presidential candidates before them. You have likely shared in more than one conversation that has left you feeling confused, unsure, and frankly, sick to your stomach at the possibilities that lay before our country. Particularly if you are Catholic, attempting to give primacy to your conscience in voting has likely been difficult and even crippling.
Perhaps you are like me, and have tried to avoid thinking about the work of politics. When my children ask about the candidates, I try not to say much. I’ve attempted to laugh through it with Alec Baldwin and Kate McKinnon. I’ve ordered my favorite takeout in an attempt to keep my spirits up while watching one of the debates, hoping to hear something that will ease my conscience and clear my heart to choose. It’s no surprise that I haven’t received much consolation in these things.
Perhaps it is fitting that we come to the election at the end of this extraordinary Year of Mercy. This has been a truly messy election process, so much so that many of us may want to simply withdraw and ignore what is happening in our country and our world. However, it is really a time to enter into the mercy of God. This is not a mercy that takes us out of the world and sweeps us away from the complications of human life, but it is a mercy that enters ever more deeply into our humanity. The mercy of God is seen in Jesus’ willingness to enter into our mess. In the Incarnation, God refuses to turn from the difficulty, the frustration, the tedium of human life. He empties Himself and takes on humanity, with all of its joys and burdens. He lets us know that no matter what difficulties we may have, He walks with us. Even when that walk is difficult and we cannot see the finish, we still know that suffering, evil, and death will not win.
With that in mind, I encourage all Christians to stand in hope. In the midst of this election year, which has been anything but inspiring, hold fast to the hope given to us in Jesus Christ. Do not walk in endless gloom and despair, throwing your hands up in frustration and walking away sad. Do not fall into the lie of futility and despair, because to do so is, in a sense, to deny the goodness of the Incarnation. If God did not hold Himself back from the reality of humanity, neither can or should we. Pray. Study. Discuss. Work. Walk through this seeming mess as Jesus walked to Golgotha—with perseverance and hope.