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.
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.
Jesus said to pray for your enemies, so you better start praying for yourself! When you start talking torture, when you withhold justice, when you withhold food for the hungry, drink to the thirsty, money for the poor, medicine and medical care to the sick, when you hate, when you spend billions on a jet […]
The Sacrifice required of us by God is no longer the blood of bulls and rams, for Christ, our Passover Sacrifice, has been slain by us — and has become the saving Sacrifice for us. The Sacrifice required of us by God is food for the hungry, money for the poor, medical care for the […]