Thursday, September 22, 2011

WE HAVE NO KING BUT CAESAR: THE PERILS OF CONFLATING GOVERNMENT AND GOD

SOME OF THE VERY FEW CHILDREN WHO SURVIVED AUSCHWITZ
photo: I Survived the 20th century Holocaust


“Do you think God cares only for Italy?” St. Francis of Assisi asked, and much as we love our country—its hills and plains, its valleys, deserts, prairies, coastlines, and most of all, its people—we cannot seriously believe that God—that Christ, the Son of Man—cares only (or at all, as a political entity) for the secular, civilian, man-made, ideological construct known as the United States.

We cannot seriously believe that any government is tantamount to God.

“My kingdom is not of this world,” said Christ [John 18:36], thereby laying to rest all efforts to parlay him or his message into secular or political power of any kind.

We participate in and support civic affairs insofar as conscience allows, but our salvation is not worked out with or through or by virtue of any government. No government--especially not ours--has ever taught or encouraged the person who is starving to give his or her bread to a child so the child may live.

To equate God with a government is to stray dangerously, perilously far from the Way, the Truth and the Life.

“Shall I crucify your King?” Pilate asked. The chief priests answered, ‘We have no King but Caesar.’” [John 19:15].


NIGHT AT GOLGOTHA
VASILI VASILIEVICH VERESHCHAGIN, 1869

13 comments:

  1. This is amazing - thank you thank you! I have never understood the unwavering faith I sometimes see Catholics put in their political parties, as though they were some reincarnation of Christ. We must exercise our duties as citizens but our ultimate trust, salvation, freedom does not come from political affiliation.

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  2. I like the song One bread one body one Lord of all...Gentile or Jew,servant or free, woman or man no more. Sometimes I'd like to add another verse: Democrat or Republican, no more! One bread, one body, in this one Lord.

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  3. A timely piece, in view of the antics at U.N. this week.

    Who today can possibly speak truth to power?

    "Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of justice, and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace"
    --Eph.6:14-15

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  4. It sounds like you are saying that patriotism = idolatry. That seems a bit extreme.

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  5. I think patriotism can BECOME idolatry. But what I'm saying here is that no government is God. That to me sounds sane.

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  6. We had this discussion yesterday in our deacon formation class. Today I reflected to our professor, "We recognize the perils of involving the state in the enforcement of our religious will. In an increasingly diverse world, we must be careful what we ask government to do because the very laws we enact today may constrain us as Christians if enforced in the future by an opposing theology or philosophy." Our personal witness to Jesus Christ MUST draw others to Him. We cannot entrust government or media with this task. Relationship with Jesus IS the faith. God help us to pass this on!

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  7. Well said, Heather.

    It took us women such a long time to be given the right to vote that I cannot turn away from politics completely, but it pains me to see that civil discourse is no more.

    It truly helps the heart to put our citizenship into perspective when we realize that our citizenship is meant to be in heaven. We make ourselves so small when we identify ourselves only by the country of our birth or of adoption. How very limiting. It allows the citizen of one country to discount the heart and mind of another citizen of another country.

    Sometimes, I think this world would benefit from everyone laying down on the ground and spending five minutes looking up into the sky with their arms outstretched beside them.

    It always helps calm me down -- even THINKING about it, calms me down.

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  8. Thanks, Stephanie and Tish--

    Exactly. The love of Christ knows no borders. The Christ-like love we're called to emulate doesn't confine itself nor does it favor a particular country or government or people or nation or race. That's not to say that we can't try to exercise Christ-like love in every facet of our lives, including politics. But we are called to act in an arena that is way broader and higher and demands way more than politics.

    I like Tish's way of putting it: the point isn't to be anti-government, or anti-politics. It's that we can't foist our responsibility to our brothers and sisters--here and around the world--off to our government...

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  9. Haven't been commenting lately,
    Heather, but I have been reading.
    Often I find just reading or listening is the way I can try to achieve some peace of mind.

    And that peace has been elusive
    lately. Very elusive.

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  10. As always, thanks, Barbara--good to know you are there...peace and blessings to you and I will keep you in prayer...

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  11. Thank you for your beautiful reflection! So true!

    Isn't it sad how we try to make God so small? This reminds me of what Mark Shea recently wrote rebutting people who make the Gospel into a political or economic manifesto. God on our terms only, as it were.

    It's also very sad seeing each side trying to claim that *they* have the Christian position on whatever it is that day. Maybe this is a form of our pride?

    Thank you again and God bless you for writing!

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I WELCOME your comments!!!