Support the Café
Search our site

Jesus Stirring up Trouble

Jesus Stirring up Trouble

Monday, April 15, 2013 — Week of 3 Easter

Damien and Marianne of Molokai, Priest and Leper, 1889; Religious, 1918

[Go to http://www.missionstclare.com/english/index.html for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office

(Book of Common Prayer, p. 960)

Psalm 25 (morning) // 9, 15 (evening)

Daniel 4:19-27

1 John 3:19 – 4:6

Luke 4:14-30

Jesus’ visit to the synagogue in his hometown is revealing in many ways. It helps us see how he provoked so much controversy.

To introduce his message and ministry he draws from Isaiah 61 (and maybe 58). The first words from establish authority — the anointing of the Spirit. Anointing is a sign of recognition of a ruler. Jesus announces the program which he calls elsewhere the Kingdom of God — good news to the poor, release to captives, recovery of sight to the blind, liberation for the oppressed. All of these are activities consistent with the prophecies of Isaiah and the other prophets who cry out for justice, particularly toward the poor and weak.

Then Jesus proclaims “the year of the Lord’s favor,” the time of Jubilee and restoration commanded by Leviticus 25. According to the Jubilee law, every seven years the land is to rest, and there is to be no planting. Every fiftieth year is the Jubilee year, when all land ownership reverts to the original allocation assigned equally to each Israelite tribe and family. All debts are to be canceled, and anyone who has been sold as a hired laborer shall be liberated. It is a radical view of the land and the economy. “The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine,” declares God in Leviticus 25. At the time of Jesus, most of the land and its economy was in the hands of a small group of elites. Jesus’ words would be considered revolutionary by those landowners. Within a poor village of peasants as in Nazareth, such words would sound like freedom and the lifting of economic oppression. “All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.”

But then Jesus fails to live up to the hometown expectations. He does no healing or amazing works. Instead, he tells two stories from the days of Elijah and Elisha when those prophets ministered to foreigners while ignoring similar needs of Israelites. Some scholars believe these words would have been particularly offensive in Nazareth because they believe that it was a village of ultra-orthodox Jewish observance, a Davidic clan of separatists looking for a Messiah to liberate them and punish the Gentiles. Jesus’ words of favor towards foreigners was a simultaneous insult towards the insiders. Acting upon the tradition that calls for death for false prophets when their word does not prove true, the city threatens to kill Jesus.

What if the church today were to adopt Jesus’ agenda? We wouldn’t be too popular either. Everyone believes it is good to help the poor until you get real concrete about it. How about raising minimum wages? Would make us non-competitive; it’s inflationary. How about universal insurance? Too costly. What about guaranteed minimum income and housing? Rewarding people for not producing — that’s socialism. Canceling debts? Robs from the lenders. Release to the captives? They deserve their punishment. Reversion of land ownership to its original equal apportionment? Ridiculous! — would ruin development and be a business nightmare. No permanent ownership of property? Take care of foreigners first? You’ve got to be kidding.

It’s a lot easier to keep religion personal. Let Jesus heal those who need it and be our personal savior from hell or whatever. Let him give us forgiveness and love. That’s what we go to church for. Who does he think he is getting into economics, sociology and politics? Keep that stuff out of the synagogue and church, we Nazarenes say.

0 0 vote
Article Rating
Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmail

Café Comments?

Our comment policy requires that you use your real first and last names and provide an email address (your email will not be published). Comments that use non-PG rated language, include personal attacks, that are not provable as fact or that we deem in any way to be counter to our mission of fostering respectful dialogue will not be posted.

3 Comments
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
david elliott

You’re just a “younger troubler” !!! Never forget our “Lift High the Cards”…

Lowell Grisham

Ahh, David Elliott — You troubler of Israel. I remember that resolution. But I remembered it as a salary swap! That felt like a real Jubilee. If I go back to GC, I’ll reintroduce your old resolution. You never know.

Lowell

david elliott

Lowell’s mentioning of the Year of Jubilee brought back memories of General Convention years ago. I introduced a resolution in Social and Urban attempting to emulate the Jubilee Year as best we could in the 20th Century.

The resolution called for the person earning the highest salary to swap their raise for that year with the person earning the lowest. This would include all in the Church from the Parish to the Diocese to the National Church..

The resolution was sent to an interim body–in essence killed.. As Bob Dylan said–“money doesn’t talk, it swears..”

Facebooktwitterrss
Support the Café
Past Posts
2020_012
2020_013_B
2020_013_A

The Episcopal Café seeks to be an independent voice, reporting and reflecting on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican tradition.  The Café is not a platform of advocacy, but it does aim to tell the story of the church from the perspective of Progressive Christianity.  Our collective sympathy, as the Café, lies with the project of widening the circle of inclusion within the church and empowering all the baptized for the role to which they have been called as followers of Christ.

The opinions expressed at the Café are those of individual contributors, and, unless otherwise noted, should not be interpreted as official statements of a parish, diocese or other organization. The art and articles that appear here remain the property of their creators.

All Content  © 2017 Episcopal Café