“St. John the Baptist Preaching” by Mattia Preti (1613-1699), oil on canvas, painted about 1665, housed at the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco. Nebraska Catholic Conference Executive Director Tom Venzor explains that the NCC’s mission, as well as the fundamental call of every baptized Christian, is to be the prophetic witness that directs all earthly things to Christ. This is what John the Baptist did when he proclaimed, “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” WIKIMEDIA COMMONS/PUBLIC DOMAIN

Commentary

Eyes on Christ

What a bittersweet moment it is knowing this is the last column the Nebraska Catholic Conference (NCC) will write on the physical pages of the Catholic Voice.

It has been our honor and pleasure to write these columns over the years. I am sincerely grateful to each and every one of you for giving your time to reading them, learning what you can about the intersection of our Catholic faith and local, state and federal public policy, and subsequently putting your faith into action.

Before I dive further into my column, I ask you to do two things. First, keep following this column at the Catholic Voice’s website. The weekly column we write for the Diocese of Lincoln’s Southern Nebraska Register will find its way to the online version of the Voice. Second, visit www.necatholic.org and join our Catholic Advocacy Network of Nebraska (“CANN”). CANN is the place for the timeliest updates on the NCC’s public policy and pro-life work. As I always say, share it with your family, friends and parishioners – there’s strength in numbers!

All that said, I think it is only appropriate that my column for the final print edition of the Catholic Voice focus our eyes on the Lord God Almighty. In the words of Revelation 1:4-7: “Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Look! He is coming with the clouds; every eye will see him, even those who pierced him.”

At the end of the day, all earthly politics should be directed to him who is Alpha and Omega, beginning and end. This is the desire and work of the NCC and it is the fundamental call of every baptized Christian.

To accomplish this work, we are called in our own day and age to be like John the Baptist: “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness. Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God” (Is 40:3-5).

This prophetic task of always pointing to Christ is a difficult, yet fulfilling responsibility. It is a task that requires of us a deep intimacy with the Lord, to receive from him the deep conviction that he is the foundation of all reality and existence. That he is, as Pope St. John Paul II put it in “Veritatis Splendor,” “the decisive answer to every one of man’s questions.”

In Christ, we find the way to building the common good and advancing the inviolable and utterly beautiful dignity of each and every human person. It is only through Christ’s light that we can proclaim such truths. To quote the Psalmist: “In your light do we see light” (Ps 36:10).

As we approach the great end-of-the-liturgical-year feast day of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, we are called once again to place ourselves before the kingly throne of our Savior, who offered his life that we may have life with the Father. In doing so, we return to what Pope Pius XI in his encyclical “Quas Primas” called a “secure and solid foundation” for our political life.

In offering our Lord a proper place in society as king, we experience a foretaste of what Daniel himself saw as a foreshadowing of days to come: “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and kingdom, that all peoples, nations, languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed” (Dn 7:13-14)

May we strive to establish a society that keeps its eyes on Christ, the one who heals us of our divisions, iniquities and rancor, and makes us a people of justice and peace.

Tom Venzor is the executive director of the Nebraska Catholic Conference. Email him at tvenzor@necatholic.com.