As Catholics, we lose a lot of battles in the public arena. Sometimes giving up and opting out appears to be the best option, but it’s not. Each of us has a small but crucial role to play in God’s great story of salvation, which often doesn’t look much like earthly victory.
The heroes of last year’s Star Wars film, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” bring this dynamic to life on the silver screen and provide a profound image of our duty as Catholics in today’s culture and public arena: to be workers, ministers and prophets of a future not our own.
The standalone hero?
In 1977, the film “A New Hope” ushered in the first Star Wars trilogy, in which we followed the scrappy Luke Skywalker as he fulfilled his destiny to become a Jedi. Much of the plot follows Skywalker in his enterprises, showcasing his courage, his quick wit and resourcefulness, and his skill as a pilot and a fighter. Luke, in many ways, is the hero of the story.
However, what looked like standalone heroism 40 years ago had another thing coming last December with the release of “Rogue One.” The film is a sort of caveat, interrupting the plot of “The Force Awakens” (continued in “The Last Jedi,” which is in theaters) to give viewers a glimpse into what took place before we met Luke Skywalker.
As it turns out, a lot of other people had work to do before Luke could shine.
Passing on the plans
“Rogue One” follows a ragtag group of rebels on a mission to steal the plans to the Death Star, a space station strong enough to obliterate entire planets in one strike. Retrieving those plans, stored in an enemy base on a remote planet, would enable the Rebel alliance to destroy the weapon and put an end to its destructive power.
To make it happen, each member of the team has a small but crucial role to play. Just how crucial each man’s part is can be seen most dramatically in one scene in which a line of rebels passes the plans along like a sprinter’s baton as Darth Vader cuts them down. The last man standing just manages to slip them through a closing door before meeting his own end. It’s clear in this moment that if one single actor in this great heist fails to execute — even if his only job was to pass the plans from one man to the next — the plan would have failed.
Their mission is successful; the plans are recovered. Tragically, the team does not survive to celebrate their victory; the enemy, realizing its defense has been compromised, makes a last-ditch attempt to stop the rebels by using the Death Star to destroy the planet.
Here’s the point: Unless these unsung heroes were willing to do their part, even at the cost of their lives, Luke Skywalker may have remained an anonymous farm boy on Tatooine. His role was no more important than theirs.
Part of something greater
Especially in the public square, it often feels like we as Catholics are fighting a losing battle. It is sometimes tempting to think when it comes to our political system that change will never come, so why bother?
We must not forget that the work of public policy and advocacy takes the contribution and commitment of many people. It is the work of many years, sometimes many generations. Each one of us is a link in the chain, necessary because we hold together something much bigger than ourselves: We are charged with passing the baton of faith, handing down God’s plan. In the words of the Archbishop Oscar Romero Prayer, “We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work. Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us.”
Members of God’s great mission: It is true we may never see the end results. But if we allow this reality to discourage us, then the sacrifices of those who came before us will have been in vain, and the next generation will be left empty-handed. As the culture around us threatens to silence the truth about God and the human person, we must stand as an alliance of cultural rebels, each one playing a small but necessary part in God’s plan.
Sarah (Spangenberg) Carter is a communications associate for the Minnesota Catholic Conference.
Urge Congress to support Dreamers
The Dream Act of 2017 (H.R. 3440 and S. 1615), which has bipartisan support in both the House and Senate, is intended to protect immigrant youth who entered the United States as children and know America as their only home. The young people who stand to benefit by this bill are contributors to our economy, military veterans or current service members, students in our universities, and leaders in our parishes and communities. They should not be forced to live in constant fear of deportation at any moment or of separation from their families. Members of Congress need to hear from their constituents on this pressing issue that impacts the future of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) youths and young adults. As Catholics, we believe in protecting the dignity of every human being, especially our children.
The following members of Congress have already shown their support for Dreamers by signing onto the bill as co-sponsors. Please call them to thank them and ask for their continued support of Dreamers.
Rep. Timothy Walz (1st District): 202-225-2472
Rep. Betty McCollum (4th District): 202-225-6631
Rep. Keith Ellison (5th District): 202-225-4755
Rep. Rick Nolan (8th District): 202-225-6211
The following members of Congress have not yet signed on in support of the Dream Act of 2017. We ask you to call them today to urge their support by signing on as a co-sponsor.
Rep. Jason Lewis (2nd District): 202-225-2271
Rep. Erik Paulsen (3rd District): 202-225-2871
Rep. Tom Emmer (6th District): 202-225-2331
Rep. Collin Peterson (7th District): 202-225-2165