Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Poll Analyses
Share on Facebook 5 Share on Twitter Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
Exclusive to OpEdNews:
Life Arts    H2'ed 11/22/20

What We Do to The Least: The Most Political Sunday Readings of the Year!

Follow Me on Twitter     Message Mike Rivage-Seul
Become a Fan
  (51 fans)

20111010 Fox: Rich & Poor People
20111010 Fox: Rich & Poor People
(Image by Chris Piascik from flickr)
  Details   DMCA

Readings for the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe: EZ 34: 11-12, 15-17; PS 23: 1-3, 5-6; I COR 15: 20-26, 28; MT 25: 31-46.

Today's readings raise the central political question of our day: what is the purpose of government? Is it simply to protect the private property of the well-to-do? Or is it to sponsor programs to directly help the poor who (unlike their rich counterparts) often cannot afford adequate food, shelter, clothing, health care, and education - even if they are working full-time?

For the last forty years or so, the former view has carried the day in the U.S. So it has become fashionable and politically correct even (especially?) for Christians to advocate depriving the poor of health care to help them achieve the American Dream, "ennobling" the unemployed by removing their benefits, criminalizing sharing food with the poor, and "punishing" perpetrators of victimless crimes by routinely placing them in solitary confinement.

Today most prominently, the idea that government's task is to help corporations even it means hurting the poor, elderly, and newly arrived has been incarnated in our government's response to Covid-19. It has amounted to a giant give-away to billionaires including the president's own family. Today's poor, middle class and future generations will pick up the tab for that particular wealth redistribution upward.

This Sunday's readings reject all of that. And they do so on a specifically political liturgical day - the commemoration of the "Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe." Yes, this is a political liturgy if ever there was one. It's all about "Lords" and "Kings" and how they should govern in favor of the poor. It's about a new political order presided over by an unlikely monarch - a king who was executed as a terrorist by the imperial power of his day. I'm referring, of course, to the worker-rebel, Jesus, the poor carpenter from Nazareth.

Today's readings promise that the rebel - the "terrorist" - Jesus will institute an order utterly different from Rome's. That order recognizes the divine nature of immigrants, dumpster-divers, those whose water has been ruined by fracking and pipelines, the ragged, imprisoned, sick, homeless, and those (like Jesus) on death row. Jesus called it the "Kingdom of God." It's what we celebrate on this "Solemnity of Jesus Christ King of the Universe."

(Btw: in the eyes of Jesus' executioners, today's commemoration would be as unlikely as some future world celebrating the "Solemnity of Osama bin Laden, King of the Universe." Think about that for a minute!)

In any case, our readings delineate the parameters of God's new universal political order. To get from here to there, they call governments to prioritize the needs of the poor and those without public power. Failing to do so will bring destruction for the selfish leaders themselves and for the self-serving political mess they inevitably cultivate.

The first reading gets quite specific about that mess. There the prophet Ezekiel addresses the political corruption Lord Acton saw as inevitable for leaders with absolute power. Ezekiel's context is the southern kingdom of Judah in the 6th century BCE. It found itself under immediate threat from neighboring Babylon (Iraq). In those circumstances, the prophet words use a powerful traditional image (God as shepherd) to inveigh against Israel's pretentious potentates. In God's eyes, they were supposed to be shepherds caring for their country's least well-off. Instead, they cared only for themselves. Here's what Ezekiel says in the lines immediately preceding today's first lesson:

"Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! . . . But you do not take care of the flock. You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally."

In other words, according to Ezekiel's biblical vision, government's job is to address the needs of the weak, the sick and the injured. It is to tenderly and gently bring back the wayward instead of punishing them harshly and brutally.

A great reversal is coming, Ezekiel warns. The leaders' selfishness will bring about their utter destruction at the hands of Babylon.

On the other hand, Judah's poor will be saved. That's because God is on their side, not that of their greedy rulers. This is the message of today's responsorial psalm - the familiar and beloved Psalm 23 ("The Lord is my shepherd. . . ") It reminds us that the poor (not their sleek and fat overlords) are God's "sheep." To the poor God offers what biblical government should: nothing but goodness and kindness each and every day. Completely fulfilling their needs, the divine shepherd provides guidance, shelter, rest, refreshing water, and abundant food. Over and over today's refrain had us singing "There is nothing I shall want." In the psalmist's eyes, that's God's will for everyone - elimination of want. And so, the task of government leaders (as shepherds of God's flock) is to eradicate poverty and need.

The overall goal is fullness of life for everyone. That's Paul's message in today's second reading. It's as if all of humanity were reborn in Jesus. And that means, Paul says, the destruction of "every sovereignty, every authority, every power" that supports the old necrophiliac order of empire and its love affair with plutocracy, war and death instead of life for God's poor.

And that brings us to today's culminating and absolutely transcendent gospel reading. It's shocking - the most articulate vision Jesus offers us of the basis for judging whether our lives have been worthwhile - whether we have "saved our souls." The determining point is not whether we've accepted Jesus as our personal savior. In fact, the saved in the scene Jesus creates are confused, because their salvific acts had nothing to do with Jesus. So, they ask innocently, "Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?"

Next Page  1  |  2

(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).

 

Must Read 1   Well Said 1   Supported 1  
Rate It | View Ratings

Mike Rivage-Seul Social Media Pages: Facebook Page       Twitter Page       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Mike Rivage-Seul is a liberation theologian and former Roman Catholic priest. Retired in 2014, he taught at Berea College in Kentucky for 40 years where he directed Berea's Peace and Social Justice Studies Program. His latest book is "The Magic (more...)
 

Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Follow Me on Twitter     Writers Guidelines
Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

STAY IN THE KNOW
If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEdNews Newsletter
Name
Email
   (Opens new browser window)
 

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Sunday Homily: Pope Francis to Women: The Next Pope Should Be One of You!

The Case for and Intimate Relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene

"Cloud Atlas": A Film for the Ages (But perhaps not for ours)

Muhammad as Liberationist Prophet (Pt. 2 of 4 on Islam as Liberation Theology)

What You Don't Know About Cuba Tells You About YOUR Future

Sunday Homily: Pope Francis' New Song -- Seven Things You May Have Missed in 'The Joy of the Gospel'

Comments Image Post Article Comment and Rate This Article

These discussions are not moderated. We rely on users to police themselves, and flag inappropriate comments and behavior. In accordance with our Guidelines and Policies, we reserve the right to remove any post at any time for any reason, and will restrict access of registered users who repeatedly violate our terms.

  • OpEdNews welcomes lively, CIVIL discourse. Personal attacks and/or hate speech are not tolerated and may result in banning.
  • Comments should relate to the content above. Irrelevant, off-topic comments are a distraction, and will be removed.
  • By submitting this comment, you agree to all OpEdNews rules, guidelines and policies.
          

Comment Here:   


You can enter 2000 characters. To remove limit, please click here.

Please login or register. Afterwards, your comment will be published.
 

Username
Password

Forgot your password? Click here and we will send an email to the address you used when you registered.
First Name
Last Name

I am at least 16 years of age
(make sure username & password are filled in. Note that username must be an email address.)

5 people are discussing this page, with 8 comments  Post Comment


Mike Rivage-Seul

Become a Fan Follow Me on Twitter
(Member since Apr 9, 2010), 51 fans, 331 articles, 1263 comments, 4 diaries (How many times has this commenter been recommended?)
Facebook Page Twitter Page Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

  New Content

According to today's readings, one cannot be a true follower of Moses or Jesus the Christ and simultaneously support an empire like Rome's or that of the United States.

Submitted on Sunday, Nov 22, 2020 at 10:00:02 AM

Author 0
Add New Comment
  Recommend  (2+)
Flag This
Share Comment More Sharing          
Commenter Blocking?
Indent

Robert Gormley

Become a Fan
Author 42289
(Member since Dec 12, 2009), 1015 comments (How many times has this commenter been recommended?)
Not paid member and Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in Not paid member and Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in Not paid member and Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in Not paid member and Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Reply to Mike Rivage-Seul:   New Content

It's like supporting the government of Rome 2000 years ago, the similarities are striking.

Jesus called the politicians and religious leaders of the day a "brood of vipers", nothing

different today. As 2000 years ago , so as today: " I am the way , the truth, and the life."The world will pass away, but my words will not pass away." His words are still here today,

despite numerous efforts to destroy them.

Submitted on Monday, Nov 23, 2020 at 1:27:14 PM

Author 0
Add New Comment
  Recommend  (0+)
Flag This
Share Comment More Sharing          
Commenter Blocking?
IndentIndent

Mike Rivage-Seul

Become a Fan Follow Me on Twitter
(Member since Apr 9, 2010), 51 fans, 331 articles, 1263 comments, 4 diaries (How many times has this commenter been recommended?)
Facebook Page Twitter Page Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Reply to Robert Gormley:   New Content

The parallels with Rome and the treatment of its colonies, like Palestine, are striking.

Submitted on Monday, Nov 23, 2020 at 4:18:06 PM

Author 0
Add New Comment
  Recommend  (0+)
Flag This
Share Comment More Sharing          
Commenter Blocking?
IndentIndentIndent

Blair Gelbond

Become a Fan
Author 71296
(Member since Sep 8, 2011), 5 fans, 30 articles, 841 comments (How many times has this commenter been recommended?)
Not paid member and Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in Not paid member and Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in Not paid member and Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in Not paid member and Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Reply to Mike Rivage-Seul:   New Content

Books by David ray Griffin:

The American Trajectory: Divine or Demonic

Christian Faith and the Truth behind 9/11: A Call to Reflection andAction

Probing disturbing questions that beg for a response from the Christian community, distinguished scholar of religion and popular writer David Ray Griffin provides a hard-hitting analysis of the official accounts of the events of September 11, 2001. A tireless investigator, Griffin has sorted through enormous amounts of government and independent data and brought to the surface some very unsettling inconsistencies about what really happened. In this, his latest book, he analyzes the evidence on 9/11 and then explores a distinctively Christian perspective on these issues, taking seriously what we know about Jesus' life, death, and teachings. Drawing a parallel between the Roman Empire of antiquity and the American Empire of today, he applies Jesus' teachings to the current political administration, and he explores how Christian churches, as a community intending to be an incarnation of the divine, can and should respond.

Submitted on Monday, Nov 23, 2020 at 7:50:23 PM

Author 0
Add New Comment
  Recommend  (0+)
Flag This
Share Comment More Sharing          
Commenter Blocking?
IndentIndentIndent

Blair Gelbond

Become a Fan
Author 71296
(Member since Sep 8, 2011), 5 fans, 30 articles, 841 comments (How many times has this commenter been recommended?)
Not paid member and Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in Not paid member and Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in Not paid member and Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in Not paid member and Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Reply to Mike Rivage-Seul:   New Content

Books by David ray Griffin:

The American Trajectory: Divine or Demonic

Christian Faith and the Truth behind 9/11: A Call to Reflection andAction

Probing disturbing questions that beg for a response from the Christian community, distinguished scholar of religion and popular writer David Ray Griffin provides a hard-hitting analysis of the official accounts of the events of September 11, 2001. A tireless investigator, Griffin has sorted through enormous amounts of government and independent data and brought to the surface some very unsettling inconsistencies about what really happened. In this, his latest book, he analyzes the evidence on 9/11 and then explores a distinctively Christian perspective on these issues, taking seriously what we know about Jesus' life, death, and teachings. Drawing a parallel between the Roman Empire of antiquity and the American Empire of today, he applies Jesus' teachings to the current political administration, and he explores how Christian churches, as a community intending to be an incarnation of the divine, can and should respond.

Submitted on Monday, Nov 23, 2020 at 7:56:29 PM

Author 0
Add New Comment
  Recommend  (0+)
Flag This
Share Comment More Sharing          
Commenter Blocking?

Michael Dewey

Become a Fan
Author 11470
Follow Me on Twitter (Member since Feb 15, 2008), 18 fans, 23 articles, 6 quicklinks, 4051 comments, 17 diaries (How many times has this commenter been recommended?)

"When shall it be said in any country of the world, my poor are happy; neither ignorance nor distress is to be found among them; my jails are empty of prisoners, my streets of beggars; the aged are not in want, the taxes are not oppressive...when these things can be said, then may that country boast of its constitution and government."~ Thomas Paine"
       -- Tom Paine

Facebook Page Twitter Page Linked In Page Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

  New Content

I do find what is going on in DC right now very interesting, him not wanting to acknowledge defeat has me wondering what could happen the next couple months. But overall something tells me 2021 will better than 2020, even though I know that wouldn't be very hard to do.

But Alan Jackson sings my gospel in this "Alright Song." "If everybody every where had a light to bare and a little bigger piece of the pie, we'd be living us a pretty good life and that would be alright.

Submitted on Sunday, Nov 22, 2020 at 9:31:44 PM

Author 0
Add New Comment
  Recommend  (1+)
Flag This
Share Comment More Sharing          
Commenter Blocking?
Indent

Mike Rivage-Seul

Become a Fan Follow Me on Twitter
(Member since Apr 9, 2010), 51 fans, 331 articles, 1263 comments, 4 diaries (How many times has this commenter been recommended?)
Facebook Page Twitter Page Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Reply to Michael Dewey:   New Content

Loved the song, Michael. And what a big band Jackson had behind him! Great production. Even better message.

Submitted on Sunday, Nov 22, 2020 at 10:24:54 PM

Author 0
Add New Comment
  Recommend  (1+)
Flag This
Share Comment More Sharing          
Commenter Blocking?

Nels Wight

Become a Fan
Author 2581
(Member since Sep 3, 2006), 4 fans, 1518 comments (How many times has this commenter been recommended?)
Not paid member and Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in Not paid member and Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in Not paid member and Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in Not paid member and Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

  New Content

amen, hermano - nunca mejor! gracias

Submitted on Monday, Nov 23, 2020 at 5:42:59 PM

Author 0
Add New Comment
  Recommend  (0+)
Flag This
Share Comment More Sharing          
Commenter Blocking?

 
Want to post your own comment on this Article? Post Comment