In our own world, the Bethesda story reminds us of the fact that social and economic systems meant to assist the needy often keep them in poverty. Our story suggests that the 40 million Americans who live in poverty will need to doubt and challenge the system, and to look for help outside of it. Further, our sermons will need to speak life into death as a reminder that there is life beyond the system.
We are called to proclaim God’s word in such a way that we offer a nourishing alternative to the scarcity that all too often is dished up by our capitalistic, technologically-obsessed, and media-saturated society. As the People of God we are called to proclaim a new world order, one characterized by abundance and joy, by justice and lovingkindness, without any restrictions, without any boundaries.
Nehemiah 8 reminds us that hearing the word of God is an occasion for joy, not sorrow and regret.
When we stop clinging to what we know and what we are, we can go out into the world without fear, insecurity, resentment, and judgment, as true Children of God. The image of a playing child helps us see alternatives to our childish attitudes.
It is the crucified Christ who sends us out to his sisters and brothers who are being crucified by the powers-that-be every day. Are we willing to do what Jesus requires and die in the process? Or will we deny Jesus in order to save ourselves?
While often read merely as an account of judgment, heaven, and hell, the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats reveals a love that overcomes dualism.