Friday in the Twentieth Week of Ordinary Time

John 11:45-54

When Your Eyes Are on Worldly Things…

I’ll confess a sin to you: I can sometimes border on being a “political junkie.”  Now we don’t watch television, with the exception of a few ballgames, and have never paid for satellite or cable.  But there is the Internet, and so I go to my favorite websites and read political commentary.  The sin is that, if I don’t guard myself, that stuff will consume my thoughts, and, before long, I’m all worked up because my mind is focused on worldly matters.  And what’s worse, when our thoughts are spent on worldly matters, we concern ourselves with things like power, and our hearts turn to schemes.  We’ve taken our eyes off of Christ.  Paul prayed that God would fill the Christians in Rome (the political capital of the world in Paul’s day) “with all joy and peace in believing” (15:13), and Isaiah tells us that “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you” (26:3).

Here, we see how the Jewish leaders of Jesus’ day had completely sold themselves out to their Roman lords.  They are worried because, “If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.”  There is no concern in this statement for godliness, truth, or justice, but only self, graft, and power.  And then Caiaphas takes it to the nth degree: “[Don’t] you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, [and] not that the whole nation should perish?”  (John goes on to tell us that he “did not say this on his own accord,” implying that the Spirit was prophesying through Caiaphas, proving once again that God can speak through a donkey, as in Numbers 22:22-35.  John then adds that in dying, Christ would gather into one the children of God from all the nations, as foretold in Hosea 1:10-11.)

And so were their concerns, and so did they contrive affairs, and so did they spin their web, and so did they catch their prey, and so did they kill him, and so did they retain their hallowed political turf (until A.D. 70).  And it began with rationalizing their place: “But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed” (7:49).  The people needed them, so they reasoned.  And they couldn’t defeat the Romans so best to get along, and getting along placed them at the highest rung on the ladder.  People at the upper echelons of society don’t like Messiahs; they turn things upside-down, and say things like, “The last will be first, and the first last” (Matthew 20:16).  I’m not saying that politics is evil in and of itself, and I’m sure there are well-meaning people who serve.  But Christians must beware of the dangers of power, and keep the Kingdom first, above all else (Matthew 6:33).

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