Bishop Ricken

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The Most Rev. David L. Ricken is the 12th bishop of the Diocese of Green Bay.

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A crisis of truth in our nation

By Bishop David Ricken | January 12, 2021

Our hearts are saddened because of the terrible violence that struck the nation’s capital on Wednesday, Jan. 6. Just as we mourned the violence this past summer following the death of George Floyd, we are in mourning again. It is sad that our country has become so divided, so rancorous, that such an uprising could happen. All of the events of the past months of heightened division, put on steroids by social media and the media in general, have brought us to a very somber and sobering moment.

We are a nation in crisis. In one sense, what we are witnessing is a crisis of truth. Our society tells us that truth is whatever we make it, that each person determines their own truth. To maintain our own personal understanding of truth, we seek out anyone or anything that will confirm our beliefs and we dismiss anyone or anything that will challenge our beliefs.

This is not the way of the Gospel. While it might be comforting to shape truth to fit our own ideas, we cannot grow as humans unless we are willing to be shaped by the truth. You see, brothers and sisters, the truth is not just an idea, the truth is a person, Jesus Christ, and the challenge each of us faces is to become like Jesus. This is no easy task because it requires us to surrender our own ideas, our own agendas, our own truth.

As a nation, we have been on a downward trajectory now for many years insofar as our religious, spiritual, familial and moral lives go. For too long, we have placed our faith in other people and things, rather than in God. This is not just a problem in the world at large, it is a problem within the church as well. The events of last week show us what happens when we place our faith in people and political parties over God. It doesn’t matter if we are talking about Republicans or Democrats, no government official and no public policy can save us. Only Jesus can. And while we believe that God can bless the efforts of our political leaders, they are still broken human beings, who at times will fall short.

This is a moment of decision for the country. We must realize the centrality of God in our lives and humble ourselves before him. Without God, we are nothing and everything will continue to unravel unless we turn back to God, who made us and so desperately wants to pour out his love and mercy upon us. Jesus Christ is the King of All Nations. During these weeks and months ahead we must repent of our sins and turn humbly to God, begging his assistance.

This past Sunday, the church celebrated the Baptism of the Lord. We recalled how Jesus submitted himself to be baptized, not for the remission of his sins but as the first act of his public ministry, an act of humility, an act of placing himself in obedience to the will of the Father. His Father was well pleased and the Holy Spirit descended upon him at his baptism. He began the establishment of the Kingdom of God here on earth.

Friends, that kingdom is present here and now. But in order to make the kingdom a reality in our world, like Jesus, we need to humble ourselves to the will of the Father. We need to ask God to send his Spirit upon us and give us the grace to do his will. This won’t be easy, but it’s the only way we can make our way through this crisis we are facing.

May God pour out the blessings of his glory on this good nation and may we be open to receiving the grace to do his will, on earth as it is in heaven!

Follow Bishop Ricken on Twitter, @BpDavidRicken.

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