In their response to Samuel’s declaration of the character of the monarchy they had requested for themselves, Israel tragically assented to the establishment of various structural injustices. However, the first step towards a world ordered by justice is rooting out the false belief that injustice is our lot.
In the declamation of Isaiah 1, the prophet associates Judah and its rulers with Sodom, for their inhospitality, injustice, and the presumption that they can hide this from God. Zacchaeus, a man characterized by such Sodom-like injustice, is delivered from this as justice is welcomed into his house in the person of Jesus.
He faces no criminal charges. Indeed, a U.S. judge ordered him released five years ago. Nevertheless, Mohamedou Ould Slahi remains in Guantánamo Bay, after more than thirteen years in captivity. He was snatched out of his home country of Mauritania shortly after 9/11/2001, and then renditioned to Jordan, Afghanistan, and finally Cuba. In U.S. custody he has endured beatings, threats, sexual assaults, sensory deprivation, lengthy exposure to cold temperatures, food deprivation, deprivation of medical care, stress positions, and forced nudity.
Although a superficial reading might suggest a straightforward interpretation of the Parable of the Talents, closer examination reveals troubling contradictions between this interpretation and the broader teaching of the gospel. Reading it as a descriptive parable of economic injustice provides us with a more satisfying, albeit grim, alternative interpretation.
As Christ speaks the truth of his kingdom to power, it is heard as if it were a foreign tongue. In Jesus’s cross-examination before Pilate we see two misunderstandings of the nature of his kingdom and a central challenge of Christian political theology is brought into clearer focus.