In the last week or so, I have been blessed to be spending time with thousands of young Catholics.
I was in Seattle for an inspiring meeting of La RED, which is a coalition organization that brings together all those in the Church who are working with young adult Latino Catholics.
Back home in Los Angeles, I celebrated the annual Missionary Childhood Association Mass at our cathedral. We had more than 2,800 Catholic school students from 55 of our schools, and we were celebrating their beautiful work to help underprivileged children in Ecuador.
Also, in the last week I joined about 8,000 of our Catholic school students at the annual Christian Service 4 Life event at the University of Southern California. It is an amazing thing to celebrate eucharistic benediction in an arena filled with reverent and faithful young people.
Finally, I had the privilege recently to formally welcome the young people of NET Ministries to Los Angeles.
NET stands for “National Evangelization Team,” and these young adults give retreats for young people in parishes and schools. The organization is international and has been around for about 30 years.
We have a fine youth ministry program already here in the archdiocese, and we are blessed now to have NET Ministries to complement and enhance the spiritual formation and guidance we can provide to our young people.
I am sharing this because these encounters bring me hope and joy. In the faces of these young people I see the future of the Church and the future of the country. I see young men and women who love being Catholic and who are ready to make their own unique contribution to the moral and spiritual renewal of our society.
And I have been reflecting on that as we look ahead to the elections next Tuesday.
What is sad is that there are a lot of people who seem angry and frustrated, and a lot of people I meet seem discouraged about the direction our country seems to be going. They don’t know what to think, and they seem kind of depressed to have only these two candidates to choose from.
As a citizen and as a voter, I agree it is a frustrating year. There are so many important issues that we seem to be avoiding or not talking about.
I am not naive about the grave challenges we face in our society and in our culture, but I think we need to keep our perspective.
A friend just told me about a sign he saw in front of a Protestant church. It read: “No matter who is president, Jesus Christ is still king.”
That’s true, isn’t it? And as I was reflecting on this, it occurred to me — that if Jesus Christ is truly king, then that means two things.
First, it means we should have great hope — because Jesus has already won the battle for us and he is walking with us. And if God is with us, who can be against us? With Christ, all things are possible.
And second, if Jesus Christ is truly king it means we still have a job to do, you and me. We still have our identity and mission as Christians.
No matter who wins next Tuesday and no matter who loses, we are called to follow Jesus Christ and to build God’s kingdom here on earth. We are called to be people of hope and we are called to share the hope of Christ with others. No matter who is president.
Of course, Christian hope is not just wishful thinking or some kind of “blind faith” that things will somehow get better.
We know that American society is changing, and changing fast.
Not long ago, when we said words like “man,” “woman,” “marriage,” “family” — we all understood the definitions. Not long ago, our laws and public policies reflected a common understanding about what these words meant.
Obviously, that’s not true anymore. Now the definitions of these words are controversial and contested. And there are other deep changes going on in American life — changes that are rooted in the globalization of our economy and inequalities and injustices in our society.
We need to be realistic and try to understand what all this means — for the mission of our Church, for our lives as Christians.
But in all this, we need to be people of hope.
Christian hope is realistic, it is rooted in the truth. Not only the truth about the way things are in society. But also the truth about the cross — the truth that Jesus Christ is king and that he is still working to make this world his kingdom.
Pray for me this week and I will pray for you.
And let’s ask our Blessed Mother Mary to pray for our country and to help us to grow in hope, so that we remember that no matter who is president, Jesus Christ is still the king — of our world and of our hearts.