Matthew 22:15-22 "God and Caesar" for Sunday, October 16, 2005
Mark 13:24-37 "Keep Awake" for Advent IB

Matthew 22:34-46 "Back to Basics" for Sunday, October 23, 2005

Whenever I am lost in an intellectual tangle and wondering what I really believe, I always come back to this great commandment from Jesus, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” I don’t need any great exegetical theories, I don’t have to understand the hermeneutics of Heidegger or ponder the great teleological talents of Tillich to make sense of this. As an editor, I prefer how Luke presents this passage, since he follows with the parable of the Good Samaritan. This way we are even left without a great intellectual debate about “Who is my neighbor?” Everyone who suffers beside the road to Jericho is our neighbor.

Whenever I am lost in an intellectual tangle and wondering what I really believe, I always come back to this great commandment from Jesus, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” I don’t need any great exegetical theories, I don’t have to understand the hermeneutics of Heidegger or ponder the great teleological talents of Tillich to make sense of this. As an editor, I prefer how Luke presents this passage, since he follows with the parable of the Good Samaritan. This way we are even left without a great intellectual debate about “Who is my neighbor?” Everyone who suffers beside the road to Jericho is our neighbor.

So why do we get this very straight-forward passage so wrong? If Christians can’t stand for our suffering neighbor, what do we stand for? I urge you to read two articles I’m going to link here.

In the article “Torture in the Name of Jesus” Clay Evans of the Boulder Daily Camera writes,

“Many Americans stand with President Bush on virtually everything simply because he is a self-declared Christian, a once wayward man miraculously turned prayerful. ‘The Lord has just blessed him," televangelist Pat Robertson once gushed about Bush, summing up the apparent beliefs of millions.’... It doesn't make any difference what he does, good or bad, God picks him up because he's a man of prayer and God's blessing him. Wow. Must be nice. And you certainly wouldn't want to criticize God's anointed leader on Earth, would you?”

Bush continues to threaten veto of a John McCain sponsored bill which affirms that the US military will not use torture, which was passed by a 90-9 vote in the US Senate. Evans observes,

The only person tortured in the Gospels is Jesus himself, and it wasn't pretty. Ask "Goremaster" Mel Gibson.  When the president (and his faithful lieutenants, including Colorado U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard, one of the nine loyal lapdogs who voted against the McCain amendment) suggests that torture is a necessary response to the threat of terrorism, I wonder if he remembers what Jesus told a disciple at Gethsemane: ‘Put your sword back in its place, for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.’ Anyone who argues that Jesus would advocate torture is torturing the scriptures for immoral ends. As incredulous people are now asking, Who Would Jesus Torture?”

In a second article related to this scripture passage Molly Ivins gives some great insight to the current pension problems that threaten to undermine our security in old age. Ivins reminds me that “love your neighbor” must inform public policy. After some very insightful explanations into how large corporations are getting away from their responsibilities to workers she writes,

“The biggest byproduct of these changes is fear. Fear may be a more dangerous emotion than anger. It turns life into an "every man for himself scramble" without unity, community, caring or sharing.

In fact, every one of us comes into this world naked and helpless, and most leave it in the same condition -- and we are dependent on one another every single day in between. The "stand on your own feet and take care of yourself" attitude the right wing keeps pushing is not only cruel, but stupid, too."

 

 
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Re: Matthew 22:34-46  "Back to Basics" for Sunday, October 23, 2005
by     Bill Curnutte at 09:55AM (EDT) on Oct 19, 2005  |  Permanent Link

Because of a long life spent in the far country and because of biblical passages like this one, I feel more like Zacchaeus every day. The day salvation comes to your house is a day you never get over.

Thank you again,
Bill Curnutte (www.prodigalson.us

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