This is a blog that I post to several times a week although not necessarily daily. These reflections are triggered by the scripture found in the lectionary used by many Christian denominations. While I am part of the Catholic tradition, these posts are not --or rarely--sectarian. I try to put myself in the space of a of Jesus Christ and listen to words that come to me as I read and pray the scriptures. Each post also includes a photograph. These rarely have any connection to the content of the post but are simply pleasing images that I capture as I make my pilgrimage through life.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The great reversal

Sunrise above the clouds
"For behold, some are last who will be first,and some are first who will be last.” Luke 13:30
Jesus frequently ends a story or address with a statement of the reversal that is inherent in his message.  He lived, as we all do, within a cultural and social setting in which norms and values were taken for granted.  One of those was simply that the favor of the Divine One rested more strongly on those whose social and economic standing was greatest.  In short, if you were rich, it was clear that the Divine One loved you more than others who were less rich and certainly more than those who were poor, sick, maimed, or otherwise excluded and on the margins.

Jesus did not want his followers to be misled into accepting this prevailing thinking.  The father loved and cared for all equally.  Each of us, no matter our life circumstance, is called to love the Divine One and to express that through love of others as though they were family and neighbors.  Jesus focused on the individual's relationship to the Divine One and to others.  He did not spend much time at all talking about what has become known as "social sin."  In fact, even the socially acceptable practice of slavery is not condemned in the New Testament but rather slaves are told to obey their masters cheerfully and willingly.

First century Christianity played out under the prevailing notion that Jesus would return any minute, claim the world for the Divine One, gather all into the divine life, and end the world.  With that mindset, the important message had to do with getting one's life righteous with Jesus and the Father and to not be misled by worldly success which would shortly be shown to be irrelevant, i.e., the Great Reversal.

Once it became apparent that the Second Coming was not imminent, Christian thought began to focus more closely on how to live a Christian life within the social, political, and economic context of the world.  A focus on personal spirituality and an individual relationship to the Divine One would not be enough unless it was expressed in a live that sought to change the structures of society that were clearly at odds with the fundamental Christian message, with the Divine One "there is no partiality."

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