Tuesday, October 29, 2019 - Updated: 3:27 pm
QUESTION: I am writing about the preaching I hear each weekend. I don’t need my priest lecturing me about the latest cause taken up by Hollywood celebrities and leftists. I need guidance for worship of God and how to save my soul from eternal damnation. But I am sure this question will never see the light of day in your column.
ANSWER: The question above actually has seen the light of day! Essentially, the question is asking about what is perceived as “politics” from the pulpit. The writer feels that the preachers are taking up “causes” rather than preaching the Gospel of salvation.
I sometimes wonder what the very first generation of preachers said. I assume that the pattern of their preaching took Jesus as a model. So, what did Jesus preach? Did Jesus ever get into politics?
Clearly, Jesus avoided the politics between the Romans and the Jews who resented the Roman occupation of their land. But the real “politics” at the time of Jesus involved the religious and cultural elite. Chief among these were the Pharisees, who were teachers of the law, and the Sadducees, who were of the priestly classes of the Temple.
But politics in any form was not why Jesus came into the world. The real reason was love. God so loved the world that he sent his only Son (see John 3:16). The strongest words of Jesus, therefore, were reserved for those who did not live (or preach) the law of love.
Jesus took up the mantle of the great Old Testament prophets, whom he quotes frequently. That means Jesus preached against those who cheated the poor and stole from them. He preached against those who held office and were not concerned about the people entrusted to their care. Jesus described them as those who were supposed to be shepherds, but who cared little for the welfare of the sheep. He also challenged his disciples to follow the teaching of the law and prophets and care for the poor, the marginalized and stranger (immigrants).
If Jesus were here today, what would be the subjects of his preaching?
I suspect that he would be preaching about corruption of those in authority. He would challenge the rich to care for the poor. He would tell his disciples that the widow, orphan and stranger (immigrant) must be of their concern. He would tell them to respect the gifts of the world God created.
For most Sundays in the church’s calendar, those topics routinely come up in the Scripture selections. When preachers speak on topics suggested by the preaching of Jesus in the New Testament, is it fair that they be numbered among the liberals and leftists?
It is the prayer of Jesus that all may be one. I would think that Jesus is expecting us to be united in our concerns for the “least among us.” Discussion as to how this might be accomplished is to be expected. The fact that this is important to Jesus has never been in doubt, and it is to Jesus that we must give an account at the end of our lives on earth.
Father Bober is administrator of the grouping that includes St. Kilian in Adams/Cranberry townships and Holy Sepulcher in Glade Mills.