Friday, October 17, 2014

The Sunday Word

If you are racing around doing a million things, it's not to late to pause and take a look atthe readings for the twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time.

The Pharisees in the Gospel are convinced they can trick Jesus into making a statement that isn't "politically correct" -- that is, denying the emperor's right to levy taxes. But already the Pharisees betray their ignorance -- for their political question assumes Jesus had a political agenda. Since they were always trying to find ways to maneuver within and around Roman authority to their best advantage, the Pharisees naturally assumed that Jesus must also have an outline of politically motivated moves guiding his ministry.

But Jesus was not concerned with politics -- he was concerned with justice. He didn't just want to bring the kingdom of God into Roman-ruled Palestine. He wanted Roman-ruled Palestine to help bring in the kingdom of God. Jesus' vision was not just another version of political and cultural organization -- supplanting the Roman state with a Jewish state, or even 1800 years later, a United States.

Jesus weaned people away from the spirit of power and awakened them to the power of Spirit. Jesus wanted to wake people up to the possibility that there was so much more available to them -- more love, more joy, more justice, more power -- through salvation and a right relationship with God. "Give to God what is God's" does not imply a separation of "church" and "state" -- it is a radical mandate for a re-evaluated life and a renewed creation.