John McCain

by

John 7:14-36

 

As I sat down to write my reflection for today, the image of John McCain kept coming into my mind.  I have been learning more of his story as people begin to eulogize him. I am particularly taken with his having been a POW, tortured on a regular basis but refusing release until all his fellows could also be freed.  He was a person of great integrity and courage, and this was reflected throughout his political career in the choices he made out of his deep convictions. In this time of political tribalism, he operated from a higher standard, truly serving his country in the causes he championed and in his stance on the issues that came before him.

 

I am also taken with his invitation to former presidents from both political parties to speak at his funeral.  He was defeated by both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, but I don’t think that is the point. A person’s funeral can be the last chance they have to send a message to those they love.  McCain loved his country, so it is to all of us that he directs his message. We would be wise to listen well.

 

In today’s reading from the Gospel of John, we hear about Jesus’ conflict with the religious authorities of his time.  As he teaches in the temple, people are recognizing him as something special – guessing that he might be the Messiah. This is very threatening to those in power.  Not only does it challenge their authority, it forces them to look at who they are, what choices they have made to get where they are, and what they have sacrificed along the way.  Do they see in Jesus the pure expression of the heart of their faith? There is much of what he says that they don’t understand, but I think they do sense that his teaching is full of truth and vitality.  It makes them want to kill him.

 

Jesus says about his message and about those who are listening to him, “Anyone who resolves to do the will of God will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own.  Those who speak on their own seek their own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and there is nothing false in him.”

 

We’re all imperfect beings, so there is falseness in each of us.  This makes it even more important for us to hold our own teachings and actions up to Jesus’ way of measuring things.  When we speak, whose glory do we seek? When we act, who are we serving? Are those we admire people of integrity? How do we honor them?

 

Photo from Wikipedia: By O’Halloran, Thomas J. – This image is available from the United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID ppmsca.03416. Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6250016

 

Laurie Gudim is a religious iconographer and writer living in Fort Collins, Colorado.  For more information and to see some of her images, visit everydaymysteries.com.

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Philip B. Spivey
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Philip B. Spivey

Presiding Bishop Curry stated that McCain, a life long Episcopalian, lived "...not for self alone, but for the ideals and values that make for a better world."

I agree with this perspective so far as I consider how far the Conservative credo has devolved. I disagreed with much that John McCain said, but I never thought that he was coming solely from a place of unprincipled expediency or malice. Rather, I knew that we did not share a great many values, especially as concerned the oppressed and the marginalized.

McCain exemplified the Republicans of yore: Old boys in the old boy club of the national legislature forging deals with Democrats; in those days, they spoke to one another. Fast forward, and one of the last Lions of the Senate couldn't fathom colleagues, and a president, intent on destroying our republic yet calling themselves, patriots

The irony, of course, is that McCain could never have imagined ending his career "left" of the Republican party.

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"John McCain's impact on America is not over. Not even close."

A few moments ago, Joe Biden made that statement in a eulogy to John McCain in Arizona. I'm hopeful that McCain's death will mark a moment of reflection and maybe even a turning point. Those values and traits that he possessed in abundance- courage, determination, and a fundamental sense of decency are exemplary and admired. Regardless of where your views are within the political spectrum, that is undeniable.

The teachable moment here, if there is one to be had at all, can be found in the stark contrast between the character of this remarkable man and the character of the current inhabitant of the oval office. Those qualities we value and admire that John McCain possessed- courage, service, sacrifice, and decency- our current President is bereft of all of them. The contrast is glaring and absolute. Perhaps his passing will serve as a wake up call.

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