Print Version September 13th, 2006
Readings: 1 Cor 7:25-31; Lk 6:20-26
Setting his misogyny aside, I do love Paul’s urgency and absolute conviction that everything has changed. Everything is different after the death and resurrection of Jesus, with a difference that has diverted human—and even cosmic history—in a new direction. And in that new direction all the old rules cease to apply, all our customs and cultures are flimsy and fading. Kinship and consumerism, marriage and mirth—every bond and tie is loosened by the call of the coming kingdom.
I love that urgency—but of course I can’t feel it—even the greatest head of steam fizzles away over 2000 years. The world as we know it hasn’t passed away and we’ve all gone back to owning and operating with a certain relief.
Jesus has his own urgency and his vision is at once grander and more mundane. For him too, everything has changed. It has always and everywhere already been changed but we’ve conned each other into thinking otherwise. Not just so we can believe in tomorrow but so we can acquiesce to the demands of living the good life here and now. There’s a list of values—wealth, consumption, security, reputation—that we measure each other by. They drive our economies, control our customs, and feed our wars. And Jesus is saying we are wrong. Wrong on all counts. And we always have been. These are not the ways God accounts, not God’s values. Poor, hungry, bereft, and hated: those are God’s values, God’s way of life.
How can we believe such things of God All-powerful, all-knowing, all-present? Only by looking at Jesus: born in a cave, bedded in a trough, carried off as a refugee. Poor, hungry, bereft, and hated. … Happy.