I have spent a lot of time in my life following politics. I was a rare 12-year old when I started reading newspapers, watching TV newscasts and listening to radio news. After getting a degree in broadcast journalism, I became a news reporter. And working at a radio station in Austin, Texas the late 1990s and early 2000s meant covering some state news from the Capitol and some national news with a president who was the former governor.
Leaving news for stay-at-home motherhood, I stopped following politics to follow my child. But politics never left me. People frequently told me their political viewpoints, often tagging their comments with the idea their party was the true party of the Gospel.
To be a good Christian, some would say, was to be a Democrat. Democrats care about the poor, education and civil rights, they said. Jesus would vote Democratic.
To be a good Christian, some would say, was to be a Republican. Republicans care about the sanctity of human life, the dignity of work and the rule of law, they said. Jesus would vote Republican.
These are certainly things found in the Gospel. But it was weighing on me how often people were “sure” Jesus backed their party and not the other. How could two very different and sometimes opposite viewpoints claim to have Jesus in their corner?
In 2011, I was on a retreat. I was there for other issues I needed to take to prayer, but the question of politics was still in my heart. Sitting directly in front of the Eucharistic Jesus in the monstrance, I finally asked, “Okay, Jesus. Are you a Democrat or a Republican?”
I don’t know if I actually expected Him to talk. And if He was going to answer, I didn’t know what He would say. But I believe He did answer.
As I looked at the Eucharistic Jesus, it seemed as though the host became larger. It didn’t, but I felt as though it did. I heard Him speak in my heart three words: “I am life.”
I came so that they may have life and have it abundantly. — John 10:10
“I am life.” That was all He said to me. But the rest of the communication came in a kind of mental experience, a kind of understanding. I had an awareness that “I am life” encompassed every human life of every kind and color, every age from the moment of conception to natural death, the creation of that life, the preservation of that life, the giver of gifts and talents for each life to share with others, the taking of that life from earth as only He had the right to decide, the education and cultivation of that life, the giver of all rights to that life in freedom. He is life.
For I, the Lord, do not change. — Malachi 3:6
Then I felt as though I were taken outside of time and space. The definition of what it means to be a Democrat or a Republican is not the same as it was five years ago. Or 10 years ago. Or 50 years ago. Or 100 years ago. What people think about being an American today isn’t the same as it was when the United States was founded. The borders of all countries have changed over the course of human history and so have the borders of political thought. Political thought changes. But God doesn’t change.
After this experience in prayer, I was given to understand that no political party, nation or any other human institution could offer the perfect plan for humanity that God offers. Jesus is bigger than politics.
I am the way, the truth and the life. –John 14:6
At the time Jesus came into history as a human, there were many political viewpoints. There were Pharisees, Sadduces and Zealots. And many of those who waited for the Messiah expected a political one. Even as Jesus was ascending into Heaven, the disciples asked whether Jesus would now restore the kingdom to Israel (Acts1:6). But Jesus answered in a much greater way, “It is not for you to know the times and the seasons that the Father has established for His own authority (Acts 1:7).” To restore Israel was not to free her from the Romans, but to create the new Jerusalem in Heaven (Revelation21:2).
My experience in prayer told me the perfection of peace and the cultivation of life cannot be achieved among the nations until Jesus, the Ruler of Nations, comes to claim the throne. Until then, we pray for our political parties, our politicians, our cities, our states and our nations. May they encounter Jesus, who is Life.