Thought for the day

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened."
- Matthew 7:7-8

Daily Reading

EXODUS

3:1-22



  • Lenten Meditations from the Pastoral Concerns Dept – Day 14 “A POLITICAL PLOT – NO JUSTICE, SEEK EMANCIPATION” Pastoral Concerns

    Lenten Meditations from the Pastoral Concerns Dept – Day 14 “A POLITICAL PLOT – NO JUSTICE, SEEK EMANCIPATION”

    [The Pastoral Concerns Department of the Church of South India brings out devotions for the 40 Lenten Days in 2019 beginning from the Ash Wednesday. A group of CSI Presbyters from the five states of South India prepared these devotions and published on this official website of the CSI Synod, Official Facebook grouphttps://www.facebook.com/groups/csisynodcommunication/and the official WhatsApp Broadcast from the number +91 9840577404. You can read/download the English version of the devotion here. The writer of the devotion presents the same in a video on the day.Watch here Rev. Solomon Paul, Director, Youth Department, CSI Synod , gives a meditation on "A POLITICAL PILOT – NO JUSTICE, SEEK EMANCIPATION”


    Lenten Meditations- Day 14 (for 21st March 2019)

    A POLITICAL PLOT – NO JUSTICE, SEEK EMANCIPATION”

    Selected Texts: Mark 14: 55-65

    (Corresponding Texts: Daniel 7:8-14; Psalm 110: 1; Acts7: 54ff; Matthew 26: 57-68; Luke 22: 66-71)

    Prologue:

    The periscope on Jesus before the Sanhedrin presents a political plot devoid of justice, misuse of institutions that were supposed to impart justice and ways of emancipation. A reading of the said text is in the context of religion being used for political control in Asia. The purpose of this meditation is to equip universal Church in Asia to take the path of emancipation.

    The communal forces in South Asia, Middle East, elsewhere, are not just persons. They are perverse ideologies that pollute minds of people, youth in particular and polarise societies. While doing so they cook-up stories, pervert history, create otherness and hate.

    The Church in Asia needs to face Leviathan- communal forces, seek emancipation, pave the way of Justice and Love. Eric Hobsbawm, a historian exploring on culture and emancipation, referring to the Jewish history says that the Jewish emancipation is prompted by secularization and education. Secularisation in this meditation denotes ‘circumvent the authority of religion’ (go beyond the boundaries), and affirm people’s freedom in contrast to the oppressive state. Using the idea of secularisation, the given text will be read.

    Blasphemy or Seeking ways to put Jesus to death

    Arrest of Jesus in the Gospels portray a powerful Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin ignored its own rule, not to examine the accused at nights. Misusing Sanhedrin authority, Jesus was arrested at night by the armed forces (Mk14:48-49; Mt26:47; Lk22:52-53; Jn18:3). Moreover, Sanhedrin enticed the crowd against Jesus (Mk14:55ff; Mt26:59; Lk22:71). An emphasis on time and action by the Sanhedrin against Jesus indicates violation of accountability on Justice matters. Arrest of Jesus can be said metaphorically ‘way to Sanhedrin,’ which is violent.

    Even though the Lukan narration depicts the Sanhedrin event as of ‘day,’ it agrees with the Gospels on Sanhedrin seeking to kill Jesus (Mk14:1, 55; Mt 26:4, 59; Lk 22:2; Jn18:4); in synoptic, Jesus who been accused of blasphemy (Mk14:63-64; Mt26:65; Lk22:70-71). Way of Sanhedrin, therefore, is deviation from the path of justice.

    The above texts expose political plot of the Sanhedrin ‘to kill Jesus.’ At the same time the Sanhedrin did not kill Jesus. As per the Jewish law and practice of the time, blasphemer gets punished by stoning unto death. The book of Acts (7:54ff) narrates a story of Stephen being stoned unto death on the grounds of blasphemy, for which the Sanhedrin did not consult the Roman governor. Jesus was not stoned unto death, in spite of being accused of blasphemy but, crucified. The plot against Jesus did not end in the religious court but, in the Roman court. Therefore, death of Jesus on the Cross is a capital punishment under sedition law. Therefore, reading of the text to blame Jews for the death of Jesus is not theological but, ‘anti-semitic’ reading, something the Church needs to be cautious. To be on the way towards emancipation requires re-reading of the text that says no to labelling fellow beings as ‘others.’

    Affirming Ways of Emancipation

    Gospels present ways that affirm emancipation in the passion narratives. The Jerusalem Temple, historically, occupies central place of the city economy. Jesus had visited Jerusalem Temple with his disciples. His conversation on the Temple with his disciples was manipulated by the false witnesses before the Sanhedrin. Exposing such manipulation, there are life affirming ways, presented in the form of a debate. The Jerusalem Temple, ‘made of hands,’ is critiqued by affirming in ‘not made of hands’ (Mk14:58). Another version of the same event is “I … destroy (it)… to build it in three days” (Mt26:61). The emphasis in the said two versions of the same event is upon ‘unmake’ and ‘remake.’ This symbolic language affirms in values and economy, which are not violent. Such a debate corresponds with the events of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem along with the crowd as well as Jesus cleansing of the Temple.

    In the event of Jesus facing the high priest, Jesus was silent at one point and not silent at another. John’s gospel reports that a police man struck Jesus on his face because he was not silent (Jn18:22). Matthew and Luke reports of ‘interrogative’ approach in his response- “You have said so” (Mt26:64), “You say that I am” (Lk22:70). The way of circumventing all-embracing powers of the high priest is evident in responses of Jesus.

    Gospel of Mark further takes the way forward bringing-in the notion of ‘Son of Man’ from the book of Daniel. This book is an apocalyptic literature (Dan7:13) reminds of Qumran community that distanced from the Jerusalem Temple as well as the empires of the time. And they had subscribed to apocalyptic approaches. The idea of ‘Son of Man,’ an apocalyptic idea from Daniel is symbolically used affirming people’s way to emancipation with a vision of anti-imperialism, creating anti-imperialist text, says scholars. Therefore, ‘Son of Man’ is more of affirming an apocalyptic vision of encountering religious powers as well as Raman powers.

    In short, the text describing Jesus before the Sanhedrin presents ways of emancipation that are characterised by interrogative theological encounters, creating anti-imperial symbols and texts.

    Conclusion

    The Church in Asia need to raise up like Jesus, who withstood in the context of crumbling secular spaces under Jewish religious and Raman political powers. For which the Christian faith nurturing needs re-reading of the Biblical texts. Christian faith commitment is a commitment for justice and love. Therefore, Church in Asia needs to progress expanding secular spaces, life affirming values and economy.

    Song

    One by one we cross the river,

    One by one we’re passing o’er;

    One by one the crowns are given,

    On the bright and happy shore;

    Youth and childhood oft are passing O’er the dark and rolling tide;

    And the blessed Holy Spirit Is the dying Christian’s Guide;

    And the loving, gentle Spirit

    Bears them o’er the rolling tide. (S.S.367)

    Prayer

    O God of Justice and Love, we choose not to be the disciples of forces that create otherness and hatred: Help us not to stumble in our faith journey.

    We choose to be the disciples of Jesus, ever listening to the voice of God through text and context: Help us to keep our eyes and ears open in our collective journey.

    Teach us to be holy, forgiving, sharing, without expecting any returns: Help us to grow and yield the fruits of the spirit. In Jesus name we pray.

    Amen.

    Rev. Dr. Praveen PS Perumalla

    CSI-EMS Liaison Officer

    CSI Synod Secretariat

    Chennai

    Read Next...