Author Archives: Bishop R. Joseph Owles
A SONG TO MY SOUL A SONG TO MY SOUL is a collection of poems and prose, which look at the world in a new way. The hope of this book is to remind the reader just how mystical and magical every day in this world is. It seeks to glimpse the religion beyond religion in […]
The danger we have as faithful people reading and hearing the Gospels is that we can often dismiss the Pharisees and others as simply being enemies of Christ, and therefore, they are of no concern for us who are Christian. Yet, the Pharisees are a cautionary tale for the “religious” Christians: we can get so caught up in our own purity and righteousness, we forget that we are sinners like everyone else, and we demand people be like us, instead of being with them wherever they are — we demand sacrifice and ignore mercy. We become spiritual tax-collectors — abusing, extorting, threatening, coercing in the name of God.
I always think how disappointed the paralyzed man must have been when Jesus declared his sins forgiven. I know we are all religious, so the sin part seems to be obvious, but the man is not brought to Jesus to be forgiven, but to be healed.
Matthew’s Gospel begins and ends with the statement, or the promise, that God is “with” us. The word “with” does not only mean company, as in God is in our presence. The word “with” also is used as “for” and “solidarity.” We tells someone, “I am with you,” meaning: “I am for what you are doing,” or “I am in solidarity with you.” The word “with” also is used to mean “understand.” When someone who is listening to someone says: “I am with you,” they mean: “I understand what you are saying.” So Jesus as God With Us is a declaration that God is in our presence, God understands us, and God is for us and in solidarity with us. As Karl Barth says: Jesus is God’s “Yes!” to humanity.
Being a Christian is not about not doing things that are wrong, but it is about doing things that are right. It is about adopting a certain attitude that fuels those right behaviors that are positive and proactive and which transforms us as well as the world.
Salvation came to that house, not because Zacchaeus was converted, but because the crowd who hated Zacchaeus was converted. They saw who he was and changed. The lost were found because the crowd saw how they have refused to see Zacchaeus as the good man he was, but only accepted him as the bad man they decided he had to be because of his job.