Archive for the ‘Jesus and Politics’ Category

JESUS AND POLITICS

January 14, 2009

Today’s world is a valley of struggle and violence . The law of survival is the key to existence, the supreme law of the era of scientific and technological progress. (Is this the progress of civilization? This is a point for debate). Together with sexual permissiveness, violence is increasing in every nook and corner of the earth. India, a peaceful country of old, has become a stage for violence, immorality and dirty political games. This wave of violence and sexual permissiveness has even reached Goa and contaminated the “susegad” Goans. Day after day we hear about thefts and bank burglaries, rapes, strikes, communal riots and arsons. In short, today there is a lot of trampling on the human rights. How can we explain this riddle? There are Catholic so-called “liberationists” who appeal to the example of Jesus and pretend to model their “liberation theology” on the allegedly “revolutionary”, violent Jesus of Nazareth. Let me examine few points in a cursory manner. JESUS AND VIOLENCE It may appear from traditional paintings and pious portraits that Jesus was passive, meek and mild, without reaction, inarticulate and goodie-goodie. The Gospel depicts him as a non-conformist, revolutionary, visionary, a man of aggiornamento. He brought in the movement of renewal. But by what means? Did Jesus incite the people to class struggle, to violence, to bloodshed? Jesus was the true REVOLUTIONARY, precisely because he did not have recourse to violent means, but acted on man’s will, using all the means to persuade man and to change his “heart”, respecting his free will. Jesus has not ushered in subversions and rebellions. He was a “revolutionary” in the true sense of the word, as can be seen from his manifesto (Lk 4:16-21). Jesus came to the world to proclaim the “good news” to the poor, freedom to the oppressed, to announce the “acceptable year” of the Lord. He was to usher in a new era of renewal, a new social order, God’s Kingdom on earth. Jesus sharply criticised the rich oppressors and political rulers of his day. But he never supported the use of physical violence against his fellowmen. Rather, Jesus consistently rejected the inclination of some of his followers to utilize such volence (Jn 18:10-11). Jesus was familiar with the violent means and measures employed by the political rulers to accomplish their purposes (Cf.Lk 13:1; Mk 13:31). One of his twelve apostles, Simon, had a Zealot background. Jesus was, therefore, familiar with the Zealots’ programme to overthrow Roman rule by force of weapons, arms and daggers. But his stance was one of non-resistance and non-violence. He presents his injunction, “To him who strikes you on the right cheek, offer the other also”, within the context of love for one’s enemies. It requires a high dosage of self-transcendance and forgiveness. JESUS AND POLITICS Jesus respected the civil and religious authorities, though he criticised the abuse of power and absolutism. Jesus never entered partisan politics. His mission was to free man from sin and this to change the unjust social and political structures. Jesus has come to change man; without doing this, he could not create a new social order, proclaim freedom to the oppressed and liberation for the poor and handicapped. Jesus was aware that only in this way he could change the regime of slavery, bribery, prostitution. He instructed his disciples to “render to Caesar what is due to Caesar and to God what is God’s” (Lk 20:20-26). But he is not positing the existence of two separate realms, Caesar’s and God’s. Caesar’s realm, the social order of the Roman Empire, was for him a part and parcel of the large order of creation, whose only author was God. Therefore, Caesar does not possess anything autonomously from God. Thus, Caesar can expect obedience when his pattern is in conformity with God’s desired patterns. Everything belongs to God, there is no area in which God’s desires can be neglected. Politics is the art of governing a “city(-state, POLIS in Greece), therefore, every Christian should be interested in the building up of God’s Kingdom on earth. But what a contrast between what politics should be and what it is. We should beware of ourselves rather than beware of the politicians, because we have allowed this state affairs. We should be ashamed of it. Let us, therefore, work to give Christian witness in all areas of our lives, including politics.

*Dr.Ivo da Conceicao Souza

Advertisements