If you will forgive a moment of evangelism, as a Catholic I could not help but be struck by the timing of the readings yesterday during Mass and how they compare to the moment we find ourselves in as a country.
In Sunday’s Gospel reading, we find Jesus surrounded by a large crowd. One woman, seeking a cure to a longtime affliction, reaches out and merely touches him.
There was a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years.
She had suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors
and had spent all that she had.
Yet she was not helped but only grew worse.
She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd
and touched his cloak.
She said, “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.”
Immediately her flow of blood dried up.
She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction.
Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him,
turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who has touched my clothes?”
But his disciples said to Jesus,
“You see how the crowd is pressing upon you,
and yet you ask, ‘Who touched me?'”
And he looked around to see who had done it.
The woman, realizing what had happened to her,
approached in fear and trembling.
She fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth.
He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you.
Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.”
It is in this moment we learn that faith is rewarded when we put everything into it. This woman’s faith that Jesus was the one who could save her was so strong that merely touching his clothes was enough to heal her. Likewise, the father of a young girl in the same reading believed so strongly in Christ that his daughter rose from the dead at His command.
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The woman put so much faith into Jesus that the passage states He felt “that power had gone out from him.” The woman’s faith was returned in the form of a great power healing her.
The reward for our faith is not always so direct, but it is the promise of a greater reward that keeps us focused so directly on serving God. That continued faith, and our increasing devotion through it all, keeps us on the right path and, therefore, brings us the greatest reward possible.
In the absence of the divine, humanity has always looked to somewhat more tangible (but no less complex and just beyond our grasp) targets for our faith. In the case of an increasingly secular United States, the Democrats (and, to a lesser extent depending on the circumstances, Republicans) put all of their faith in the government, expect its power to flow to them in a more grotesque and symbiotic way than the woman who sought healing from Christ. And, while Jesus was given the power to help and heal the people of God, government is given power and uses it to feed and grow itself.
The result is a behemoth that constantly requires feeding and that no one in office seems to have the bravery to deny. The legislative branch surrenders its power to the executive, and the executive branch surrenders its power to bureaucracies, which exist solely to give themselves purpose and become accountable to no one.
Someone at one of these bureaucratic nightmares, the IRS, leaked the tax information of private citizens to the publication ProPublica in order to raise awareness that some Americans were not feeding the beast enough. The very idea that private citizens cannot trust the holders of their tax information to protect that information should scare the living hell out of politicians and Congress should be quick to investigate how such a breach could ever happen. But, instead, the Democrats used the moment to do exactly what that bureaucracy wanted: tell the American people it wasn’t being fed enough.
If the Democrats wanted to make sure such loopholes and deductions are not possible, they would be working overtime – and with Republicans – to nuke the tax code from high orbit and start over, simplifying it in a way that the average American does not need to rely on accountants and lawyers who know the intricacies of the code to help people.
At this time, Democrats are seeking to increase federal spending even further on an infrastructure package, raving about a failed attempt to take over the election system from every state in the union, and planning even more expansion of government programs all in the name of giving the government the ability to take care of us all.
Rather than putting their faith in the divine and seeking a greater, eternal reward, they wish to put all their faith in government and hope that its power will save everyone. That, however, is an insane proposition that ignores all the times giving all the power to government not only didn’t work but actually made things worse. The very idea that government can solve all of our problems is anathema to the foundations of the country, drafted by men who saw exactly what a government with all the power and no accountability could do.
Now, this can’t be all on the Democrats, as there are Republicans who really and truly think that if we just grow government their way instead of the Democrats’ way, we actually can make the country a better place. But growing government is still feeding a beast. Unlike God and Jesus, government does not reward the power your put into it by rewarding you with its own. Government takes the power you give it and only uses it to feed itself and grow bigger.