The pairing of Jesus’s celebrated entry into Jerusalem with the story of his Passion by many churches this Sunday presents a kind of emotional whiplash. It offers a warning to how we treat the prophets and revolutionaries of our own time.
Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount unsettles many biblicist ways of understanding Scripture. It may even be better to move from speaking of ‘the Scriptures’ as a noun, to speaking of ‘Scripturing’ as a verb.
This week’s lectionary represents the challenges of leadership, and the passing of more than one torch. The arc that emerges is one of hope and promise, but also one of struggle and discernment concerning leadership.
Everyday life gives us ample opportunity to fulfill all righteousness, at least as far as the gods of global capital are concerned. Building credit, contributing to a 401K plan, purchasing ordinary goods produced through an extraordinary supply chain, we participate in the enchanted world of mammon, in which money defies space and time to make and remake a world that bears its image. But in Matthew’s gospel, Jesus inhabits a different kind of story about God and the world, about empire and capital.
Jesus is not Joseph’s biological son. Matthew starts his genealogy in the usual patriarchal way, but Jesus does not continue this line. Does this not mean freedom from the patriarchal lineage?
Love should be the interpreting principle in every situation and to every person. Love for God is not expressed by hatred towards a neighbour based on any text.
Perhaps this parable is not about stewardship of resources, in the sense of asking the maximum effort to produce the maximum gains, but is rather about revealing and denouncing unethical behavior that reinforces oppressive structures of the past and the present.
Be sure you do the things you advise, instruct and espouse others to do. Do not charge others with doing the things you are guilty of doing.
Jesus’ teaching regarding taxation and our allegiance to human governments challenges Christians who find themselves subject to contemporary governments to think about how we relate to their inevitable exploitation.
It takes so little courage to become token protagonists of the truth—righteous minds defending unrighteous actions.
The tendencies of any group of human beings to normalize power and hide harm are themselves, then, subject to the process Matthew’s gospel is describing. The frankness of communication, of subsidiarity mediation and conflict negotiation, the expectation of honest and mutual accountability described here should also be applied, as healthily and faithfully as possible, to the workings of authority, relationship, and power system within the community.
Living in a time of double pandemic, as the dual waves of racism and COVID-19 wreck against the hulls of our ships and the walls that support us feel increasingly insufficient and even flawed, we, like Peter, may know and trust the call of our God to carry forward in God’s path, and yet waver.