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Mar 03, 2021 196 Father Joseph Gill,
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Q & A

Q – It grieves my heart to see so much division in the world. Whether it is divisions between races, political animosity, and even rifts within the Church, there seems to be nothing but hatred, division, and anger in our culture today. As a Catholic, how can I do my part to bring healing to our world which is so divided?

A – Ever since Cain and Abel, division and hatred has been a primary tool of the Evil One. Today, through social media and with the issues that people feel strongly about, I believe we are experiencing an unprecedented time of animosity within our world. But our Catholic Faith can show us a better way!

First, we must recall the fundamental truth that every human being is made in God’s image—including our enemies. As Mother Teresa once said, “We have forgotten that we belong to one another.” The person of a different race or political persuasion, that person we are arguing with on Facebook or who is standing on the opposite side of the picket line, is a beloved child of God whom Jesus died for. It’s easy for us to label people and dismiss them—we say, “Oh, he’s just so ignorant for believing X” or “She’s so evil for endorsing candidate Y”—but this dismisses their great dignity. Our opponents have the potential to become saints, and are recipients of God’s mercy and love, just like we are.

One of the great errors of the modern world says that in order to love someone, we must always agree with them. This is absolutely false! We can love people who have different political persuasions, sexual orientations, theological standpoints. In fact, we must love them. It is far more important to win a soul to Christ than it is to win an argument, and the only way to win a soul is through love. As Pope St. John Paul II once said, “The only proper response to a human being is love.”

Love of our opponents takes many forms. We try to do concrete works of mercy for them—so if we see them thirsty because they are protesting on a hot summer’s day, we offer them water, even if we don’t agree with their message. We make sure that our dialogue with them is respectful and sticks to the issues, rather than devolving into a name-calling session (especially when we respond to them online). We pray for them—for their conversion, for their deeper healing, for their sanctification, and for material blessings. We genuinely seek to understand their position, rather than just dismissing it. Even people who believe errors have common ground with us—seek out that common ground, affirm it, and build on it to lead them to the truth. And sometimes that love can best be shown by offering them the truth of Christ in a loving way.  Also, we should be humble enough to recognize that sometimes we are the ones in the wrong, and we need to be taught by others’ insights and experience.

Finally, I think it is important to avoid websites and news articles that are purposely inflammatory. Many news outlets and social media sites make their living by stirring up outrage and anger. But God desires Christians to be filled with peace and love! So avoid those websites or articles or authors who simply try to stir up controversy for the sake of ratings or website clicks.

St. Paul in Romans 12 gives us a good admonition: “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Only true Christian charity, carried out in words and deeds, will heal the divisions in our culture and our world.

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Father Joseph Gill

©Father Joseph Gill is a high school chaplain and serves in parish ministry. He is a graduate from Franciscan University of Steubenville and Mount St. Mary’s Seminary. Father Gill has published several albums of Christian rock music (available on iTunes). His debut novel, “Days of Grace” is available on amazon.com.

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