The human race never seems to learn from the past, but continually repeats the same mistakes over and over again. Our great nation is no different. Our government has moved into another week of two political parties at odds with each other like two children. We have national policies or the lack of policies with leaders who do not want to work together to solve the problems of our nation. Jesus came into human history at a time when much of the civilized world was ruled by the Roman Empire. Roman rule was maintained through brutal force, economic exploitation and society was secured by police and military forces.
There were very few freedoms and information was controlled by a select, powerful, colonizing group, which used local secular and religious leaders to push the Roman Imperial agenda. Dissent was not tolerated and those who protested and who dared to resist the dominant government system faced harsh punishment, torture and even death, as Jesus did. Roman rule, like other colonial dominations throughout human history, was at the time of Jesus beginning to collapse and disintegrate. Roman rule was frayed and weakening because of its arrogance, political individualism and overall corruption.
Jesus began his mission in a political, social and economic time that had many of the characteristics of the present. The promised wave of Roman prosperity did not reach the bottom of society. Jesus challenged the political, financial and religious elite that created burdens for the people, rather than meeting the needs of the people. Global prosperity did not work for the Roman Empire, neither did it work for the British Empire. There were hundreds of thousands seeking entrance into the different empires who tried to keep them out.
People during the time of Christ were searching for answers, good news and hope. Is that not the same today? The modern poor are confused, disappointed, uncertain and angry. The middle class is wanting answers and less taxation, while the rich upper class is looking for a way to move their wealth overseas. Jesus talked about taxes, the plight of women, disability, social and economic exclusion and the arrogance of power. The mission of Jesus is not about offering the poor mirages, miracles or quick fixes. The mission of Jesus is about accompanying vulnerable people in a struggle to make the structures of life resonant with the values and dignity of the individual in the light of the Gospel’s good news. We are in a time of change, and we must be certain that God is at the heart of the changes in our country and that the state does not become god and religion. We must look to the past and learn and pray for our government.