Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee
“I don’t care if it rains or freezes as long as I’ve got my plastic Jesus ridin’ on the dashboard of my car.” These lyrics, from the song “Plastic Jesus” by Eddie Marrs, are meant to denigrate those who depend upon the outward symbols of faith to get them through tough times. People of faith use these signs not as a rabbit’s foot or lucky charm, but rather as a reminder of someone to whom we owe our ultimate allegiance.
We need external signs. It’s not that the external sign makes one a Christian, or even a better Christian. Instead, it reminds us that God must be a part of every action in our lives. We have too often segregated God from life, which makes God just “one of the many things that I do” instead of “the reason for my actions in life.”
In last Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus used a strange parable about a crafty, but criminal steward who was charged to administer the state of his master. The master, finding out about his steward’s embezzlement, decides to fire him. The steward thinks, “I am not strong enough to dig and I am ashamed to beg.” (Lk 13:3) The steward sets out to reduce the amounts owed by his master’s debtors in order to gain favor with the debtors after his dismissal by the master. The master hears about the steward’s scheme and credits him for his “craftiness.” Jesus says that the children of the world will do anything to protect their self-interests, while the children of the light do not use their gifts for God’s interests.
In the card game Texas Hold’em, there is a point in the game when the player is so confident with the hand they hold that they declare “all in.” The audience sits up, and is on the edge of their seats. It’s all or nothing. In faith, we hold the perfect hand. But, how many times in life, if ever, have we gone all in for God?
There is no question that the great saints were all in for God. Unlike the dishonest steward, they used the gifts given to them to further God’s presence in this world. The martyrs did not ask what was in it for them, but rather what would benefit Jesus and His Church. We need them as a reminder of whom we belong to and where our ultimate happiness is found.
I believe that today’s “dashboard Jesus” acts as a GPS (Global Positioning System). He helps us find our ultimate destination – heaven – but, we must be all in for Him. It starts when we LOVE ONE ANOTHER
Note: This blog originally appeared as the September 24, 2019 "Love One Another" email sent to Catholics throughout the Archdiocese of Milwaukee by Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki. If you are interested in signing up for these email messages, please click here.