July 24, Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Cycle C. Readings:
1) Genesis 18:20-32
Psalm 138:1-3, 6-8
2) Colossians 2:12-14
Gospel: Luke 11:1-13
By Jeff Hensley
Catholic News Service
I’m currently reading Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln.”
Reading this week’s Scriptures on God’s generous dealings with his people, I can’t help but think of Lincoln and his tremendous desire to be at peace with all men.
The book is framed around the way he built his cabinet, primarily from men who had run against him for the Republican nomination for the presidency in 1860: William H. Seward, Salmon P. Chase and Edward Bates, from New York, Ohio and Missouri, respectively. None had respect for Lincoln when they began their cabinet positions, yet only one ended up being disloyal to him. Seward, the one who had lost the most to him, ended up as his secretary of state and perhaps his closest friend and confidant.
But Lincoln’s team-building, reconciling ways were not limited to these three. He had built relationships within his home state of Illinois, prior to his nomination, that involved reaching out and offering an olive branch to anyone who might have been estranged from him.
Throughout his political career, Lincoln continued to exercise this magnanimous wisdom sincerely and consistently.
It would seem there is no great public figure in human history who has so pervasively modeled his behavior on Jesus and his teachings.
Abraham’s bargaining for the salvation of Sodom and Gomorrah would have sounded reasonable to Lincoln.
Jesus’ assurance that God would grant the Holy Spirit to those who ask him — for “what father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish” — probably governed Lincoln’s relations with the many supplicants who sought favors, positions or reconciliation from him.
This man who sought to preserve the Union fought equally hard to bring reconciliation with his separated brethren, the estranged Southerners, even as the bitter Civil War came to a close. Striving for reconciliation with all parties made him a target for an assassin’s bullets.
Much good literature includes a Christ figure, and we should be able to recognize this one in our own country’s story.
Can you recognize any statesmen or stateswomen with a similar desire for reconciliation on the current political scene? Who would you name or why do you believe there is none?