By Sister Christine Schenk
Of all the shocking images that flooded our screens on January 6, I was most outraged by a flag bearing the name of Jesus carried by insurrectionists as they mounted their assault on the U.S. Capitol.
As if Jesus would ever condone this out-of-control mob—fueled by lies and bearing deadly weapons—intent on overturning our country’s legitimate election.
I could barely take in that this was happening at the citadel of my country’s democracy — let alone that the perpetrators would justify their violent behavior by invoking the name of Jesus.
In succeeding days, like most of the country, I was glued to cable news and smartphone alerts trying desperately to understand how this could have happened.
As I write this blog, we are celebrating the Baptism of Christ. The reading from Isaiah describes a prophetic servant of God that prefigured Jesus:
He shall bring forth justice to the nations, not crying out, not shouting, not making his voice heard in the street. A bruised reed he shall not break, and a smoldering wick he shall not quench, until he establishes justice on the earth. (Is 42:1-3)
This Jesus is a far cry from the one evoked on the insurrectionist’s flag.
So we must ask, to what is the Holy Spirit calling us to in this moment? What are we as a Christian community being asked to do?
Here are some things that came to me:
- We must pray. Pray for our country, our elected officials (including our outgoing president), our law enforcement, our fellow citizens, and all those members of cult-like militias and hate groups who blindly follow a false god.
- We must ask civic communities, communities of faith, and religious leaders to join Cardinal Cupich and our own Congregation of St. Joseph in issuing statements that condemn the use of violence and “work to end the rampant rage and division that have overpowered our nation.”
- We must contact our state and federal legislators and demand accountability by
- passing laws against domestic terrorism (If you can believe it there are none right now.)
- prosecuting insurrectionists and rioters to the full extent of the law.
- censuring or demanding the resignation of any lawmaker or public servant who promotes the false narrative that the presidential election was fraudulent.
- We must organize interfaith and interreligious networks to
- educate and provide a counter narrative to toxic cults that highlights God’s prime directive to love one another.
- build relationships of trust and understanding across faith communities
- engage with fellow citizens who are vulnerable to cultic expressions of an idolatrous heresy that bears no resemblance to Jesus the Christ.
I ask you to join me with this prayer:
Grant us, O God,
A vision of your world as your love would have it:
A world where the weak are protected,
and none go hungry or poor.
A world where the riches of creation are honored and shared
so everyone might enjoy them.
A world where different races, cultures and creeds
live in peace and harmony, with equal regard.
A world where peace is built with justice
and justice is guided by love.
Give us the inspiration and courage to go forth with willing hearts, minds, and bodies to build such a world, through Christ Jesus.
And may the God of hope fill us with every comfort and joy in believing. May the peace of Christ abound in our hearts and minds. and may the Holy Spirit gift and guide us now and forever. Amen.
– Prayer used with permission from FutureChurch
About the Author
Sister Christine Schenk has worked as a nurse midwife to low-income families, a community organizer, a writer, and the founding director of an international church reform organization, FutureChurch. Currently she writes an award-winning column “Simply Spirit” for the National Catholic Reporter.
Her book Crispina and Her Sisters: Women and Authority in Early Christianity (Fortress, 2017) was awarded first place in History by the Catholic Press Association.