As we enter 2012, our local, national and global scene seems to be one of polarization. The divisions are found in politics, economics and in religion – just to name a few. Many representing each area seem to move to the extreme left or the extreme right – with little room for a center or middle ground. Economically, the growing gap between the rich and the poor continues to reduce in size the middle class; politically, conservative and liberal labels allow little room for developing partnerships of conciliation for the common good; religiously, the fundamentalist and relativist disregard a center meeting point. Economic crisis after crisis, political gridlock, and religious intolerance continue to create an environment of instability, suspicion, and incredulity within our world community. For those with religious sensibilities the issues are multiple, particularly those affecting the Roman Catholic Community.
I have always prided myself in being a centrist – a little left of center – but never seeing myself as either far left or right. Even that position is rather arbitrary depending on who defines the center point. I remember many years ago an African bishop commenting on the liturgical changes that were occurring in the western world – namely within our first world countries. The lines were being drawn concerning communion in the hand, kneeling or not kneeling, ministers of the altar, etc. His comment was that while these issues are major concerns for us – his concerns in his own country were issues of drought, famine, AIDS, lack of medicine and medical personnel, etc. It seemed to make our issues – or my issues – rather inconsequential. From my own experience it is easy to lose the focus and the center of our lives as a community of faith. What is that center and focus? Jesus Christ.
I referred a few weeks ago a statement from a theologian commenting that our job as Church is to “do the world the way it was meant to be done.” From the time I first read that statement it has been playing in my mind and heart. “Doing the world the way it was meant to be done”, certainly reminds me that the focus on the least and the lost of our world could enable our world to center itself. Finding our center in Jesus Christ does not negate our need for self-realization, self-fulfillment, and self-actualization; however it does require an emerging self-transcendence – being able to rise above the polarization. In that transcendence we can discover our reference to God, and even the forgotten Christ – in the voiceless poor, the nameless homeless, the hungry dying. Encountering Christ – can bring us to a center in 2012, in “doing the world that way it was meant to be done. “