As Catholics, we have a long tradition of engagement in the political process as a means of putting our faith into action.
We are called to bring the best of ourselves and our faith to the public square—and yet today, many shy away from such involvement because our national and local conversations are filled with vitriol and harsh language, often directed at people themselves.
The population census figures indicate that Catholics, like Hindus, constitute a significant percentage of the national population and therefore could help determine to a large extent the composition of our Parliament.
Indeed, in the Catholic tradition, responsible citizenship is a virtue and participation in the political process is a moral obligation that allows us to lift up our dual heritage as both faithful Catholics and citizens of this great Republic.
It is the same willingness to bring his faith into the public square that allowed St Peter in today’s gospel, to step out of the boat in the middle of the storm and accept Jesus’ invitation to walk on water.
Peter was able to cast aside his doubts for a while and demonstrate a measure of faith that his brother disciples lacked. They preferred the safety of the boat, notwithstanding the promise of doing something no one had ever done before—walk on water.
There can be no denial that Trinidad and Tobago has a history of ancestral voting where thousands of persons cleave to the preferred party of their parents, unwilling as it were to come out of the boat and trust a leader of a different ethnic persuasion or one offering a different political diet.
Peter was able to step out in faith because he trusted Jesus. He had just witnessed Jesus’s miraculous feeding of the 5000 people, and perhaps now understood what it meant to trust the instructions of his leader to not be afraid.
As we contemplate the new normal imposed by the coronavirus, which of our leaders do you trust? As we grapple with our economy, unemployment, our personal safety, the restlessness of our young black male population and our education system, which of our leaders has earned your trust, so much so that you are willing to walk on water and exercise a right that has been tenaciously fought for and which should be jealously guarded?
Remember, no choice is a choice.
For the tribal divisiveness of our politics to change, Catholics of every hue and ethnicity must embrace the moral imperative to be in this world but not of this world, to be yeast and leaven in the creation of a society based on the values espoused by Jesus Christ, like equality and justice, inclusiveness and truth, forgiveness and mercy.
That can only happen when we feel brave enough to step out of the boat and walk on water. Pope Francis reminds us that we cannot escape that imperative. According to him, there is a simple formula: study the proposals put forward by all, pray about them, and choose in conscience. Tomorrow, step out of the boat, go and vote.