Yet this “good news” – profoundly strange, even apparently morbid – promises that, in relinquishing our supereminent concern for the self, pursuing instead the way of peace and justice, we become so free that even a violent end may be an expression of an ultimately joyful reception of the gift of life – that is, it may be the way to save a life.
Lent can become a season of personal and societal transformation as people of faith respond to the counter-cultural call from Jesus’ baptism. It challenges us to examine our own attitudes and behaviours, encouraging a shift towards a more compassionate and just way of living.
A political theology of the transfiguration of Jesus has to expose and transgress the elevation of whiteness as divine, as a norm and as something superior to multi-coloured local expressions of faith. It also calls us to celebrate the mystery of transfiguration as trans-figuration of the body ethic of Jesus and of all humanity.
Jesus does not need others to define who he is because he rests in the knowledge that he is called and beloved by God. Jesus does not need the man with the unclean spirit to proclaim that he is the “Holy One of God” (Mark 1:24) in order to own and live this identity for himself.
As we enter a new election season with our polarized political communities occupying different epistemologies and worlds, it remains an open question what it will look like for us to cultivate a better politics. We are caught in a riptide, being pulled further apart with few resources at our disposal for anything other than the zero-sum game we’ve inherited. The Jonah story, however, offers a different kind of political imagination, where God confronts and offers grace to enemies by putting them into contact with one another. This multi-layered grace introduces moral complexity and political uncertainty, but it also opens the door to a world not entirely determined by scarcity and competition.
Those who read Paul’s propertied incarnation in Galatians should not run away from its horrors or theologize them. We should find truth in them (though perhaps not the truth Paul intended). We should tell truth from them.
In the face of systemic injustice, it is difficult to hold space for a desire for peace and the knowledge that empires usually outlast the people who protest against them. While it may be tempting to shut down at feelings of powerlessness, the Magnificat gives us another option. We can be like Mary and the generations before her, singing and hoping and praying for change.
Mary, an unmarried peasant girl, is pregnant. Though scarcely an intimidating figure, her words in the song ascribed to her in Luke’s Gospel—known as “The Magnificat”—ought to make those of us who are privileged people stop to think, if not to fear.