I finally watched it today, and I was horrified. I am horrified.
Colbert asked Vice President Biden hard questions about his recently deceased son, about his faith, and about staying hopeful in the face of tragedy. The Vice President serenely shared stories of his son, explaining that he was a better man than he is, and spoke of how he has such a great support from his family. He spoke of his faith as an essential element of his life, how he prays the Rosary, goes to Mass, and, though he struggles at times to hold on to it when life is hard, he treasures his religion deeply.
And I am horrified. I am horrified at myself for how many times I have judged this man. I am horrified at how many of those times I've felt I was in the right to do so.
I am sure we have all heard what a bad Catholic Joe Biden is as a result of his being pro-choice and supportive of same-sex marriage. And we could talk about what the Church expects of public officials as it regards these particulars.
Or we could talk about my sin. Or yours. The reasons I'm a bad Catholic, or perhaps the reasons you might be. Or, you know, maybe not.
Often when celebrities have their dirty laundry brought out and hammered against the loft of mainstream media for all to see, somewhere inside I am thankful that my sins are not known to the public; I sympathize. But I can't recall a time I've extended that mercy to Joe Biden. And shame on me for that.
Shame on me because while he may sidestep the non-negotiable instruction of the Church, he holds the faith of the Church very dear to his heart. I've been there. I am there, often -- I need a Savior because I'm imperfect, because of how routinely I choose the world over Jesus. So Joe Biden's love for Jesus and His Mother finds itself in conflict with other beliefs he holds; that doesn't make him different from me. If anything, it makes him more like me; I often remind myself of St. Paul, and not the glorious, wonderful St. Paul, rather, the 'why do I do what I don't want to do?' St. Paul. I sin. Joe Biden sins. And our Mother the Church is equally concerned for the both of us.
We're all trying to figure this world out, and we're all stretching for the hand simultaneously nailed to a cross for us and extended in love and hope to us. There is no great chasm between Joe Biden and myself. There is, rather, a chasm between my sinfulness and God's glory; and the Vice President finds himself there with me, not apart from me, or below me.
He and I are both travelers on a journey through a scattered and fallen world. And, sure, maybe he is a bad Catholic. But how dare I ever speak of him as if he is a bad Catholic compared to me. God help me.
I appreciate Stephen Colbert's interview with Vice President Biden, and while I would never vote for the man for a multitude of reasons, I am desperately thankful for the humanity I witnessed in a simple recording of a simple late night interview. He is humble, generous with praise, and willing to admit he doesn't have it all together. In at very least those three respects, he is a better Catholic, and better person, than I.
But, I don't think he would think so. As he said in the interview, quoting a lesson his mother strived to teach him: "No one is better than you; but you're better than no one."