Saturday, November 06, 2010

Fr. Wells' bulletin inserts


Concerning the Epistle:

For the most part, our Prayer Book Epistles and Gospels are given in the “King James Version,” more accurately called the Authorized Version. We would not have it otherwise, since that version remains a great literary monument. But very occasionally the 1928 editors of the Prayer Book corrected a word, here or there. We have such an example in today's Epistle from Philippians. Where the KJV reads “Our conversation is in heaven,” the Prayer Book reads “Our citizenship is in heaven.”

Here we have a Greek word politeuma which is founds nowhere else in the New Testament. How the KJV got “conversation” out of this word is a long story which need not detain us here. But politeuma (a word related to “politics”) can be translated correctly either as “citizenship” or as “commonwealth.”

Within the Roman empire a politeuma referred to a colony of foreigners or relocated veterans. Think of a community of people with the same background, living together in a foreign country. Frequently the Roman emperors paid off their soldiers by given them grants of land in the conquered territories, which led to the creation of such communities. These “commonwealths” enjoyed special prestige and privilege in the Roman empire. Philippi itself was a politeuma.
If the Philippian Christians were tempted to take excessive pride in their political status or to find their security in an important earthly city, Paul was warning them and us that such gloating was a false hope.

Today's Gospel reminds us bluntly that Christians have a real obligation to support our earthly political systems, “Render unto Caesar...” But ultimately we belong to no earthly nation but to the Kingdom of God. When earthly political systems crumble (as the Roman empire surely did, as our own system may crumble before our very eyes), His reign remains secure.

To be a citizen is a great privilege. This was as true in St. Paul's time as in ours. A citizen has certain rights and can look to his government for protection. Paul's message in the use of this word is that we Christians enjoy amazing privileges as citizens of the Kingdom of God. We may trust in the protection of the King who has subdued us to Himself and now reigns over us and defends us. With sure confidence we may pray, in the words of St Thomas Aquinas, “And grant us life that shall not end, in our true native land with thee.”

The Prayer Book version makes another interesting change in the final verse, Where the Authorized Version had the disconcerting phrase "vile bodies," now we hear of "the body of our humiliation," which escapes the Manichaean tone and is a more accurate rendering of the Greek. "Vile bodies" was borrowed by

Evelyn Waugh as the title for a novel."

Concerning the Gospel:

In today's reading from Matthew 22, we again see Our Divine Lord in contro-versy with His opponents. Running true to form, they attempted to entrap Him with a loaded question, “Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not?” If Jesus said “yes,” He could jeopardize His popularity with His Jewish following. If He

said “no,” He would become a marked man with the Romans. It was a sneaky question, designed to make trouble. The Pharisees made sure some of the Herodians, a faction deeply sympathetic to the Romans, were on hand as witnesses.

The answer of Jesus was brilliant. “Render therefore under Caesar the thing's which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's.” Generally we take this simply as a commandment to obey our lawful government and pay its taxes. This text gets bandied around each year around April 15. It is a text widely known and quoted among people who know little about the Bible.

But there is more here than meets the eye. Whereas we pay our taxes to a government we acknowledge (perhaps grudgingly) as legitimate, the audience and followers of Jesus regarded the Roman government as conquerors, usurpers, tyrants holding no just authority. Many longed and prayed for a military strong-man who would lead a revolutionary war and drive the Romans out of their land. Many expected Jesus to become that leader. These folk paid their taxes grudgingly, but they did not consider it morally “lawful.”

So the question thrust upon Jesus by His opponents boils down to this: To what extent may a godly man obey an illegitimate or unjust government? This was reminiscent of the strange advice which Jeremiah gave his countrymen about 600 years earlier. “Submit to your Babylonian conquerors, even when they drag you off into exile, for they are God's just judgment on your sins.” A sound theology of judgment made Jeremiah into a political traitor to his people. Jesus shared virtually in the same dilemma.

For the time being, the people of God (now I am talking about us) live in two kingdoms: the reign of God in our hearts and in our personal behavior, and the political structures (which may be hellishly horrible and are never perfect) which Divine Judgment has placed over us. The first is the anticipation of eternity, the second is already passing away. We look forward to the time when “the kingdoms of this world have become the Kingdom of our God, and of His Christ, and He shall reign for ever and ever” (Rev. 11.15). But that is not yet.

The whole Biblical teaching is larger than what we have in this brief reading. The people of God may emphatically not “render unto Caesar” that which is not His. But Our Lord does teach us that “Caesar” even at His worst has legitimate demands upon us. The more urgent question here and now is whether we render unto God what truly belongs to God. LKW

1 comment:

elderchild said...

The brethren of The Messiah are but "aliens and pilgrims while the earth" for their "citizenship is in Heaven"!

So it is that they are exhorted to:

“Love Not The World”

”For the WHOLE(not just a portion) world is under the control of the evil one”.......(I John 5:19)

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world will pass away, and the lust thereof: but he that does the will of The Only True GOD will abide for ever.”(IJohn2:15-17)

“If you were of the world, the world would love it’s own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said unto you, the servant is not greater than his Master. If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept My saying, they will keep yours also.” (John15:19-20)

“Where do wars and fighting among you come from? Do they not come of your lusts that war in your members? You lust, and have not: you kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: you fight and war yet you have not, because you ask not. You ask, and receive not, because you ask amiss, that you may consume it upon your lusts. You adulterers and adulteresses, don’t you know that friendship with the world is to be at enmity with The Only True GOD? Therefore whoever will be a friend of the world is the enemy of The Only True GOD.” (James 4:1-4)

“The world cannot hate you; but the world hates Me, because I testify that the works of this world are evil.” (John 7:7)” and “The Messiah gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of The Only True God, Our Father.”(Gal 1:4)

The Messiah testified: “If the world hates you know that it hated Me before it hated you.”(John 5:18) Truly, Truly, I say unto you, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone: but if it die it brings forth much fruit. He that loves his life in this world shall lose it; and he that hates his life in this world shall have it unto life eternal.” (John 12:24-25)

John testified: “Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hates you.” (I John 3:13) “ James testified, “Whoever would be a friend of this world is the enemy of GOD”(James4:4)

"Come Out of her, MY people"!

Global warming, polluted air, land and waters, toxic wastes, sexual perversion, evil inventions of destruction, greed, hate, carnal warfare, dis-ease(no-peace),,etc,, are all destructive processes that have their root in “the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life” all of which fuel the fires of mankind’s “imag”ination ;-(

"Come out from among them and be separate"!

Peace, in spite of the dis-ease(no-peace) that is of this world and it's systems of religion, for "the WHOLE(not just a portion) world is under the control of the evil one" indeed and Truth......

Truth IS, a lie never was and is not.......

Abide in Truth....... francis