Pope Francis and a Politicized Gospel?

24 09 2015

Politics — from the Greek word ‘politikos’, which means “pertaining or relating to citizens.” It is a word that directs us toward those things which affect the ‘polis,’ the state or city, especially as characterized by a sense of community; and it is a word that points us to the ways in which a people are organized, and how power and resources are distributed.

Interestingly, Jesus had much to say about such things.  We ‘church people’ are often afraid to talk politics; thinking that if we do, we might alienate certain members, or offend those who have a different take on such issues.  But Jesus talked about political matters all the time, primarily because he knew that they were priorities in the Kingdom of God that he came to proclaim.

In fact, Jesus’ life was about as political as one can get!  The Good News he sought to proclaim was all about politics.  It was all about we relate to one another: how the rich deal with the poor, how those in power interact with those who have none, and how we who have much care for those who have little.  Jesus was deeply concerned about those on the margins of our society; the poor and the downtrodden, the outcast and the oppressed.  And his call was then, and continues to be today, about reaching out to ‘the least of these’ with love, grace, compassion, and care.

So has Pope Francis ‘politicized’ the Gospel by talking about such matters?  Is his concern for the poor and the homeless, the immigrant child and refugee mother — are such concerns political?  Is it political to talk about how cities, states, and nations, care for the least among us — the hungry and homeless, the oppressed and abused, the lost and alone?  It is political to talk about our stewardship of the resources that we claim to be our own: about the accumulation of wealth, about the materialism of capitalism, and about caring for our planet?  It is political to talk about life, and the value of each and every living thing; is it political to talk about violence, and guns, and war?

Well yes it’s political!  Of course it is!  The Pope’s here to proclaim the Gospel, AND THE GOSPEL IS POLITICAL!  And if that alienates some, and offends others . . . well, should we expect otherwise?  Just ask Jesus!  He was alienating and offending people all the time.  He was alienating the powerful and offending the wealthy every time he talked about lauding our power over those with none, and selling what we have and giving to the poor.

The Pope hasn’t politicized the Gospel, because the Gospel always has been and always will be political.  It’s about how relate to one another, and live together as one, human family.  And if we’re alienated and offended by that, well then perhaps we need to take that up with Jesus!  For the politics of Pope Francis, is the politics that Jesus came to preach.  It’s what the Kingdom of God is all about.  And it’s what this world desperately needs to hear.


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