By Christin Van Atta
It’s safe to say that Donald Trump becoming President has changed America, and perhaps the world, forever.
Please do not stop reading...
I promise this is a post about The Gospel, not politics….but I am going to weave them together briefly to make a point.
The United States has not felt such a deep fissure between ideologies since the times of segregation, or perhaps even since the Civil War. This, we can, ironically, all agree on. History is repeating itself in many ways, as the country grows further and further apart, stretching itself at the seams over who voted for Trump and who didn’t; who opposes the travel ban and who is for it; who wants a wall and who doesn’t.
We are becoming a nation addicted to polarization, a nation without a middle ground, a nation struggling to understand one another.
And it’s not just America experiencing these problems. Terrorist cells are causing havoc all over the world, pitting unwilling Muslims and Christians against each other in a guerilla-style world war. On both sides of the religious line, extremism and misunderstanding have caused untold amounts of harm to the once beautiful idea of religion altogether, and more often than not, I forgo telling people that I am a Catholic (instead favoring the title of “Christian”) for fear of them feeling innately threatened or judged by my very presence. I know many Muslims who struggle with this as well; they fear openly using the name of the religion they so love for fear of persecution and judgment.
Fissures. Cracks. Canyons forming between each other. The Enemy at work.
Fortunately, there is always hope. Our hope, and our silver lining in all of this is that, without the existence of fissures, cracks, and canyons, we would never have invented bridges.
The Gospel today gives us warning that I, for one, have been struggling to heed: “But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment.” Then, in the same passage, like a double edged sword, Jesus reminds us of the hope we have in Him: “love one another as I have loved you.”
But despite this message, questions and doubts swirl around us, divide us further. How can I find the humility to love that guy who is trying to build a wall between America and people who need our help? Where am I supposed to just conjure up love and patience for a woman who believes abortion is not murder? How in the world can I love, truly love, my spouse who voted opposite of me, and cannot understand why this hurts me?
How can I build bridges if the cracks keep growing wider beneath my feet?
Today’s Gospel does not give us the option to fail. We must build the the bridge. We must learn to love one another, to work through our anger, to engage with each other respectfully and to seek first to understand, before we expect to be understood. We must build bridges over our differences, over the suffering and the pain of confusion.
I don’t have the solution or the easy answer for how we are supposed to achieve this, but I do know that my hope for myself, and for the world, is found in Jesus
and I believe in the promises He makes to us. I think that if we really believe that our God wants the best for us at all times, then he wouldn’t steer us wrong in commanding us to let our anger go.
At some point, I think we have to stop trying to figure out who’s wrong and who’s right, and more importantly, stop asking useless, polarizing questions like, who’s more “Christian minded,” Hilary or Trump? At some point, we have to drop it all, and lay our anger for our brothers and sisters at Jesus' feet--the very source of love and peace in our weary world.
I think what gives me the most peace is knowing that at some point, if I trust God instead of trusting the world, I know He will use me to build bridges I never thought could exist.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
CHRISTIN VAN ATTA
Christin was born on the west side of Cleveland, graduated John Carroll University in 2014 with an English degree, and also has her Master's of English Literature from Kent State University. She is now a first year English teacher in Cleveland for 90 crazy 7th graders whom she loves dearly despite their craziness. Christin loves all pizza and her cat, Sienna, just as dearly, and hopes to visit Ireland someday because of the cool, rainy weather.