Readings: LK 19:28-40; IS 50: 4-7, PS 22: 8-9, 12-20, 23=24, PHIL 2:6-11, LK 22: 14-23:58.
Can a follower of Jesus ever be pro-empire? Can genuine Christians support an empire like the United States?
If you answer "yes," you're in good company. That's because ever since the 4th century, mainstream Christians have given empire hearty endorsements that Jesus could never have tolerated.
I bring that up because today's Palm Sunday readings pinpoint not only Jesus' anti-imperialism, but the precise moment when Christians began their fatal departure from the stance against empire that the Master evidently adopted throughout his life. (After all, he was executed by Rome as an insurgent and terrorist.)
And that departure has made it possible for us who now live in the belly of the imperial beast to naively think that representatives of empire are actually capable of telling the truth when empire's criminal interests are involved -- for example in Ukraine.
From the viewpoint of the imperialized (like Jesus and his counterparts in today's Global South) imperialists have no idea of truth.
This whole question is related to the process of discernment in Ukraine as puzzled over recently on OpEdNews.
Let me explain by first looking at questions asked there about the war, truth and falsehood. Then I'll compare those queries with Jesus' attitude towards the Roman Empire as described and eventually distorted in today's reading from the Gospel of Luke. Finally, I'll return to the Ukraine question with some practical conclusions about truth discernment in the light of the gospel.
Truth & Ukraine
Last week, Meryl Ann Butler published a thoughtful and soberly reasoned article headlined under the title "Russia, Ukraine, and the Elusive Truth." Towards helping readers uncover that furtive reality, she stated indisputably that "Each one of us can't physically go all over the globe to find out for ourselves what is actually going on."
Given that obstacle, she wondered what is a truth seeker to do?
I think Jesus' example in today's liturgy of the word suggests an answer. The readings imply that at least for Christians (and leftists and progressives in general) determination of truth relative to wars fought by imperialist powers can be reached much more easily than by on-site visitation or even intense study of each case of imperial involvement in far off corners of the world.
I mean, the case of the colonized Jesus indicates that imperial intervention can NEVER be justified - and certainly not in modern terms of protecting democracy or human rights. This is because (like all victims of imperialism) Jesus must have somehow realized that by definition, empires can NEVER be genuinely interested in realities that contradict their very essence.
I mean that whatever their pretensions, all empires are essentially rapacious systems of tyranny. Again, in terms foreign to Jesus (but relevant nonetheless) they're all definitively anti-democratic violators of human rights. So, without the strongest evidence to the contrary, interventions by empires MUST BE understood as aggressive self-extension, larcenous enrichment, and anti-democratic control.
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