Tuesday, 24 February 2015

God's Bias

It's very hard not to get cross at yet another scandal involving politicians cosying up to the wealthy and offering their 'services' in exchange for obscene amounts of money. Jack Straw and Malcolm Rifkind are both adamant that they have done nothing wrong, that they followed the rules. What??? Is it any wonder that the general populace is so turned off by politics? 

Somebody said something like, "MP's should have two jobs, because it keeps them in touch with the world outside Westminster"

Cynical laughter.

I might be a lot less cynical if the second job involved helping with a soup run, or serving in the Salvation Army Charity Shop, or working in a Job Centre on little more than the minimum wage. Our politics would be the better for it. But widening your experience of being a pig by rooting deeper into the trough? Oh! Please! 

I rant. 

Here's today's meditation from Franciscan, Father Richard Rohr. A perspective that we inhabitants of a nominally 'Christian' country with politicians still willing to nail their colours to the cross, need to be clear about:

Most of political and church history has been controlled and written by people on the Right, because they, more than those on the Left, have the access, the power, and the education to write books and get them published. One of the few subversive texts in history, believe it or not, is the Bible! The Bible is most extraordinary because it repeatedly and invariably legitimizes the people on the bottom, and not the people on the top. The rejected son, the barren woman, the sinner, the leper, or the outsider is always the one chosen of God! Please do not take my word on this, check it out. It is rather obvious, but for some reason the obvious needs to be pointed out to us. In every case, we are presented with some form of powerlessness--and from that situation God creates a new kind of power. This is the constant pattern, hidden in plain sight.

So many barren women are mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures that you begin to wonder if there was a problem with the water! Sarah, Abraham's wife, was barren--and old, too--before God blessed her with baby Isaac (Genesis 17:15-19). Rachel, Jacob's wife, was barren before God "opened her womb" and she bore Joseph (Genesis 30:22-24). Barren Hannah poured out her soul before the Lord, and God gave her Samuel (see 1 Samuel 1).

Even before Moses, God chose a nobody, Abraham, and made him a somebody. God chose Jacob over Esau, even though Esau is the elder and more earnest son and Jacob is a shifty, even deceitful, character. Election has nothing to do with worthiness but only usability, and in the Bible, usability ironically comes from facing one's own wrongness or littleness, as we see in Mary. God chose Saul to be King out of the tribe of Benjamin, the smallest and weakest tribe in Israel. The pattern does seem to be: "The last will be first, and the first will be last" (Matthew 20:16).

One of the more dramatic biblical stories in this regard is the story of David. God chose David, the youngest and least experienced son of Jesse, to be king over the nation. Jesse had not even mentioned him as a possibility, but left him out in the fields (1 Samuel 16). In fact, he was a totally forgotten son, who then finds his power on a new level. Yahweh evened up the odds and David, just a young boy with a slingshot (powerlessness), brought the giant Goliath (power) down (1 Samuel 17). This is the constant pattern of redemptive suffering and trial that finds its final revelation on the cross where Jesus is abject powerlessness, and in this very state he redeems the world!

God's bias toward the little ones, the powerless, and those on the bottom has been rediscovered by those who learn to see deeply and with compassion: Francis of Assisi, Thérèse of Lisieux, Mother Teresa, and 12-Step spirituality being well known examples, but even they are usually marginalized by the establishment mind and the Right. Notice the shock when a Pope took the name of a non-establishment saint, "Francis."
Adapted from
Dancing Standing Still: Healing the World from a Place of Prayer, p. 93;
and The Great Themes of Scripture: Old Testament, pp. 49-50
(published by Franciscan Media) 

Gateway to Silence:

God hears the cry of the poor.

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