Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth?
No, I tell you, but rather division.
From now on a household of five will be divided,
three against two and two against three;
a father will be divided against his son
and a son against his father,
a mother against her daughter
and a daughter against her mother,
a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.” (Lk 12:51-3)
Luke, writing probably somewhere around 50 years after the crucifixion and resurrection, describes the situation in his early church community—division and strife. Luke could just as well be describing the church and the world in which it is situated today. Strife in Congress over just budgets and deficit ceilings. Strife in city parks around the world because of the rampant greed of multinationals—symbolic of Wall Street GREED.
The net effect of Jesus’ coming has been the sword that divides and not the peace he promises. Why? Because, beginning with Constantine’s co-option of the Body of Christ, the community of faith has been divided. The state co-opts the Gospel and morphs it into the Prosperity Gospel—go to church, say your prayers, and God will bless you with material abundance which will be a sign of God’s favor no matter what is happening to the other 95% of the human race. The victims of the distorted Gospel trade the security of Jesus’ peace—his shalom—with the security afforded by war, violence, and weapons of mass destruction. As long as people interpret the gospel like Ayn Rand, we will have strife. We will not have the shalom of Jesus which is peace, wholeness and well-being based on love, even love for one’s enemies. The above picture of the sand sculpture entitled “The Daily Commute” shows us the herd -like behavior of the crowd crushed into the door to material properity.
Jesus confronted injustice when he saw it and the crowds—the Occupy Jerusalem types—understood the message. We, his disciples, are called to live the Gospel using words only when necessary. What are the Gospel values we are called to proclaim from our hearts and from the roof tops? Peace, mercy, compassion, healing, justice, forgiveness and love.
The world sneers at these values. How unrealistic can you be? Realistic enough to become fools for Christ. Paul chose to proclaim Christ crucified and resurrected to peoples enslaved by the Roman Empire and milked dry by the taxes and tithes of religious leaders. He was proclaiming to empire and the priestly establishment that Jesus and not Augustus was Lord. Treason. Foolhardy rejection of the vicissitudes of empire run amok. Jesus is Lord and Messiah. Jesus, yes the very Jesus crucified as a common criminal, was the One sent by the Living One. The one who hung naked and suffocating while the crowds mocked is Lord. Only a “fool for Christ” could make such a bold assertion! We are called to proclaim that Jesus, the crucified One vindicated by resurrection, is Lord! Let every knee bend and every tongue profess this to a strife torn world.
We are fools for Christ. Let act like it!