I spent the last few days in Florida. Yes, I know what you are thinking: “How nice! He was enjoying the sun and the ocean. He got to visit Disneyworld or Universal Studios.” No, but I really like that idea. I visited Ave Maria University with some of my brother Jesuits to give a Hearts on Fire retreat. I arrived in Florida a couple of days after the US elections and many of my conversations there were linked to it. I have heard arguments for and against the victor. To be honest, most of the arguments were against.
I did not take sides in the arguments. Almost everyone was unequivocal about their choice for candidate. As an outsider, people knew I did not have to choose between the candidates. Yet, most of them asked for my opinion. I simply replied that I did not like either candidate. My interlocutors seemed perplexed, and they did not seem to have time for me thereafter. After getting the cold shoulder in some of these conversations, I began to feel a bit rejected and excluded. I felt somewhat ostracized and lonely. Above all, I felt lonesome and desolate.
This is a feeling I have been having for a while. Both in Canada and in the U.S., I do not seem to belong. I do not really fit in. Republicans do not like me because I do not embrace Romney. Democrats do not like me because I do not agree with Obama. Liberals tend to reject me because I am pro-life. Conservatives have a problem with my passion for social justice. Christians take exception to my fondness for the Pope and my love for the Catholic church. Catholics disapprove of my critical analysis of comments made by the Holy Father and other members of the Catholic hierarchy.
In Florida, people kept asking me, “You probably are a big fan of bipartisanship, right?” Well, not particularly. I am a big aficionado of sound policy and a devotee of the Truth. After all, bad legislation that has bipartisan support is still bad legislation. Bipartisanship isn't the objective; it is merely the means. Good policy is the objective. The truth is not Republican or Democratic; nor is it liberal or conservative. It is not bipartisan, or tri-partisan in the case of Canada. The truth can be distorted by all parties. It is not an agreement. As Pope Benedict XVI has stated, “The truth cannot be compromised.” The truth is the valid source of the meaning of life. And the true meaning of life is a person: Jesus Christ.
Indeed, in his encyclical Caritas in Veritate, Pope Benedict stated that “Truth is the light that gives meaning and value to charity...Truth, in fact, is lógos (a word) which creates diá-logos (dialogue), and hence communication and communion. Truth, by enabling men and women to let go of their subjective opinions and impressions, allows them to move beyond cultural and historical limitations and to come together in the assessment of the value and substance of things.” (CV 3) The truth brings us together; it does not divide us or disconnect us.
The truth is not some kind of middle way, or via media, as Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman used to call it. The truth is not a treaty, a truce or a suspension of hostilities; it is not a trade-off or a settlement. The truth is what informs us to reach, celebrate and live lasting peace. It entails sacrifice and surrendering to God. Our Christian lives require fidelity to the Gospel, where we learn about the Truth. This fidelity is the courage to let Christ grow in us and direct our thinking and our actions. But this can only happen in our lives if we have a solid relationship with God.
Fidelity to the truth means we will be rejected: “The world will hate you because of me” (Mt 10:22). We will be ostracized and ridiculed. We will get lost. We will make mistakes. At times we will label our subjective opinions and impressions as the truth. But the truth has nothing to fear. If we believe in the Truth, it will set us free. And as the truth sets us free, we will stand with those who have been rejected because they did not stand with the masses. The truth calls us to be prophetic and to care for the lonely hearts.
So, as I write this entry, I pledge that I will offer up my loneliness for those who have been isolated and forsaken. Today I stand with the outcasts and the unwanted. I lift in my prayers all the lonely hearts.
To the millions of unborn babies who die each year in abortion clinics I say: your memory inspires me. I do not walk alone.
To the young woman who had an abortion and feels cut off from the world, I say: I pray for you and I care for you. You are not alone.
To the child who is bullied because he is different, I say: I give you my strength. I love you. You are not alone.
To the woman struggling with same-sex attraction and rejected by many, I say: I welcome you and see you as my sister in Christ. You are not alone.
To the men and women who are discriminated because they are refugees or migrants, I say: I am a refugee. I am a migrant. I walk with you. You are not alone.
To all who are rejected and isolated because do not conform or fulfil a label or category, I say: the truth has nothing to fear. We stand together. You are not alone.