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SERVE THE LORD WITH GLADNESS | Salvation history teaches us that God always wins

Simple human experience tells us that everything but God wears out sooner or later and is bound to disappoint us

I’m sorry to be the spoiler, but I know how this election turns out: God wins!

Do we really believe that, or are we in danger of placing too much of our hope in earthly things? The readings for this week challenge us with this truth from every angle. No matter the earthly outcome, our hope is ultimately in God.

So, for example, we have All Saints Day on Sunday, followed by All Souls Day on Monday, and then Election Day on Tuesday. The very sequence asks us a question: Where do we place our hope? Does it ultimately rest in Jesus and our eternal destiny, or do we have to confess that — judged by the way we spend our time and energy — we’ve placed our hope in political parties?

It’s not only faith that teaches us to place our ultimate hope only in God. Read the book of Ecclesiastes. Simple human experience tells us that everything but God wears out sooner or later and is bound to disappoint us. Election week is an important time to remember that.

No less than three times this week, the Psalms invite us to contemplate “the house of the Lord.” Psalm 23 articulates a point of faith in a situation of fear: “I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come.” Psalm 27 speaks of it as our one great hope: “One thing I ask of the Lord, this I seek: to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.” Psalm 122, the psalm of pilgrims, focuses our attention with its refrain: “Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.”

As though God had planned it in a special way for us and for this week, our gaze is directed not at the House of Representatives, not at the Senate, and not at the White House, but at something more important and more enduring — the house of the Lord. We need to let that message resonate in the depths of our hearts.

St. Paul tells us that we should have the attitude of Jesus. He humbled Himself by becoming human, and humbled Himself again by dying on the Cross. Precisely because of this, He was exalted so that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bend.” In the face of what appeared to be the most crushing defeat in human history — the death of God Himself! — God won the greatest victory imaginable. It’s hard to think of a more timely lesson.

The day after the election, some of us are going to feel like we won a great victory, and some of us are going to feel like we suffered a devastating loss. In earthly terms, both will be true enough. But the readings this week direct us away from measuring our hopes by an earthly horizon, and toward measuring them by a heavenly one.

This week let’s remember what salvation history teaches over and over, most especially in the Cross: no matter the outcome in human terms, God wins. That’s our deepest source of hope.

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