Kathleen Sebelius, Faith and Work
As Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), she leads a vast organization. She’s considered one of the most powerful women in the United States, and there’s widespread speculation about her bright political future.
She’s not living her Catholic faith in her work.
None of us has a window into her conscience, nor any idea what’s going through her head. All we know is what has been reported: her Bishop in Kansas instructed her not to present herself for communion due to her public stance on abortion, and that instruction remains in place now that she’s in Washington.
Why does this matter?
Have you ever stopped to think about how our world would look… if every Catholic, including Secretary Sebelius, were faithful in their work?
What if we could serve others more effectively, and act with greater humility and gratitude? Treat others with increased honor, make serious decisions with extra prayer, forgive others? What would happen if Catholics did a better job exemplifying the beatitudes in the workplace? Leading, working, and following, with virtue?
It would be revolutionary.
Faith and work are not opposed – quite the opposite. Being faithful Catholics should cause us to become better workers, and being better workers should cause us to become more faithful Catholics. It’s actually a rare occurrence that there’s a direct conflict between faith and work. But we have one now, with the HHS contraceptive edict.
There’s only one solution for Kathleen Sebelius – and for the rest of us.
Look up “conversion” in the Catholic Encyclopedia, and you’ll see that “Every man is bound by the natural law to seek the true religion, embrace it when found, and conform his life to its principles.” (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04347a.htm) Conversion helps us make more faithful decisions. It reminds us that we need to change – not God.
There are plenty of people who put career, money, politics, or other worldly concerns ahead of faith. God doesn’t appear threatened. His invitation to conversion is just that – an invitation.
Not to say that responding to the invitation is easy. It’s awfully hard to see beyond long-established worldviews and ideologies. Repentance is also tough; it demands serious humility. Yet the joy of reconciliation is worth it all.
There are precedents. Some people respond to the invitation to conversion, even after many years of persistent persecution of the Church. The biblical conversion of Saul (later St. Paul) comes to mind. So there’s hope.
Kathleen Sebelius could continue down her current path, of course, and who knows, maybe she could become the first female President. What a legacy, some might say.
Would it be worth it?
On the other hand, perhaps she could choose the path of conversion, and her reward might be getting fired. Her political career could come to an end. She would be giving up a lot, for sure.
Would it be worth it?
Faithfulness at work is a choice. It’s not a political thing, an ideological “conservative versus liberal” thing, it’s about being faithful or not. For those who claim the title Catholic, it doesn’t mean perfection, but rather striving for faithfulness. Because our choices matter, and have ripple effects. For some people, tsunami effects.
Part of faithfulness is the liberation of obedience, recognizing that our own opinions are transcended by the cumulative wisdom of the Church – and that’s OK. We don’t have to be judge and jury on every issue imaginable. Truth doesn’t depend on poll results.
So regardless of what some Catholic politicians might say, faithfulness is not about openly opposing clearly defined Church doctrine.
It reminds me of the timeless words of Jesus: “For what does it profit a man, to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?”
Indeed. Let’s pray for the conversion of Kathleen Sebelius. Faithfulness in her work wouldn’t be easy, but following the teachings of Jesus never has been easy. For those willing to try, however – a career filled with higher purpose now, and an eternity of joy to follow.