Prophetic Love in the Public Sphere

BY ERIN MCDONALD, C.S.J. | February 21, 2022
Sunday’s Readings

Editor’s Note: This reflection was originally published on February 25, 2019. 

“Don’t judge. Love your enemies. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.”

Over the past several days I have prayed with these words and repeated them to myself in hopes of receiving some form of Divine inspiration. However, they didn’t seem to invoke a radical response. I think I’ve heard these phrases so often that they seem to lack the powerful spark they probably held for those who heard Jesus speak them. So I asked myself, what are the ways in which these words could transform my heart in a prophetic way? If Jesus spoke them to me today, to whom might he be referring?

Jesus’s powerful words feel so needed in our political life today. It doesn’t take much to experience the name calling, virtue-signaling, judgment, and pervasive negativity that has become commonplace in our toxic political discourse. Our divisive political climate seems to encourage anger, blame, and indifference to each other’s fears and suffering. However, Jesus commands us to go against the grain. He commands prophetic unioning love, forgiveness, and compassion.

prophetic love

If I’m really being honest with myself, I, too, can slide into a moral superiority which can lead me to judge and condemn my neighbor for their political perspectives. In these moments, I fail to see that I am filling my own heart with the same anger and division which I am condemning in my neighbor.

I have heard stories of friendships and families being fragmented by political strife. It is here, in the intersection of politics and relationships, where I need to allow Jesus’s powerful words to challenge me to regulate my emotional alarm system and my self-righteousness so I can engage in civil public discourse about the critical issues of our time. I do not need to compromise my values or political beliefs to truly listen lovingly and openly to my neighbor.

We are called to engage the critical issues of our time. As people of faith, we are called to be disciples of love, inclusivity, reconciliation, and equality.

For Reflection:

  • Where can I grow in awareness of my own moments of judgment and condemnation of my neighbor?
  • How can I be a catalyst for unioning love in places of political discourse?
  • Can I practice better emotional management in difficult conversations?
4 replies
  1. Dr Eileen Quinn Knight
    Dr Eileen Quinn Knight says:

    In a similar manner to Sister Erin, the challenging words of Jesus rang in my ears as we introduced some wonderfully dedicated humans to the Rite of Welcoming in the Catholic Church. When the priest celebrant asked the sponsors to sign the cross on the senses, one could audibly hear grace pouring through the Church. The Cross on their hands represented the actions they would do on behalf of Christ; the signing of the eyes represented the things we would incorporate into our eyes that would make Christ more visible, the signing of the mouth represented the issues we would say to make Christ clearer to others, the signing of the ears represented listening to the Word of God and then bringing it to others. The signing of the feet represented the purposeful walking with Christ to bring others to Him.and to each other. The signing all over the body represented the times we would be a purposeful and intentional disciple of Christ both now and forever. The entire congregation expressed of sense of wonder at the humans taking such a glorious step in regard to the working of the Lord. When we spoke about it in class both the sponsors and the catechumens and candidates expressed their understanding in this holy manner. .

  2. Kathy Kasprowicz
    Kathy Kasprowicz says:

    Thank you Erin. His is profound. As angry and upset as we become about social injustice, we know the path to resolution is through love, not anger. It is through listening, not condemning, and through understanding, not judging.

  3. Dr.Cajetan Coelho
    Dr.Cajetan Coelho says:

    “Don’t judge. Love your enemies. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned” – Difficult but worth attempting again and again. Thanks Sister Erin McDonald.


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