Raj Bharat Patta is an ordained minister of the Andhra Evangelical Lutheran Church in India and currently serves as a recognised and regarded minister of the Methodist Church in the UK working in the United Stockport Circuit. He completed his PhD from the University of Manchester and has written a thesis on Subaltern Public Theology for India. He is co-editor of the book Multiple Faiths in Postcolonial Cities: Living Together after Empire ( Palgrave Macmillan, 2019)
Retelling of a story/text in the Word of God demonstrates the dynamic nature of the event of the God of the word. The God of the Bible is a God who reappears, reveals, re-presents, reimagines and repeats Godself to the creation in God’s own ways to each time and context.
What makes this moment prophetic is that Elisha forces Naaman to experience what it is to be restricted of free access to every place. Through that restriction, Naaman learns what it means to be vulnerable and realizes how powerless people are pushed into much suffering because of restrictive laws. In the experience of powerlessness, the healing of Naaman begins.
There is more to the ‘fruit’ image than a mere word play, for a basket of summer fruit is itself a potent symbol with political-theological connotations. This text about the vision of ‘a basket of summer fruit’ is a vision of contestation for the cause of justice.
Jesus couldn’t tolerate the unjust practices of Herod, nor could he remain a silent spectator to all the injustices Herod had been doing. Instead, at that very moment he swears against Herod with an f-word.
In that trust in the divine, one can unashamedly open up their positions and postures because God receives people as they are and as they wish to come. God doesn’t blame and shame any names; rather God calms those who come unto him with the heavy labor of shame.
Subaltern hermeneutics offers two insights in this text, a “de-anthropomorphic” reading and “de-transcendental divine” reading. These readings offer hope to the subaltern communities in their journey of faith today and challenge all readers to seek partnerships with the creation, for Jesus is the crop….
When Dalits write, they contest these misrepresentations and objectifications, and provide a sub-version of the texts. When Dalits write, they experience liberation. A decolonial reading of this given text calls us to offer our support and solidarity with #Blacklivesmatter and #Dalitlivesmatter, recognising an agency of liberation in our Dalit and Black bodies, lives, and texts.