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Sacred Scripture is Not Apolitical

Since the first moment of this global pandemic this has been a political issue. So it is difficult to talk about the pandemic without talking about politics. While talking about spiritual things and politics is unpopular I wanted to offer a reflection that challenges us today.

Sacred Scripture is not apolitical. But the way that we normally read the Bible is that we spiritualized it and fail to see how it offers a powerful critique of our social and political agendas. Jesus came to proclaim a Kingdom. We pray for that Kingdom every time we pray the Lord’s Prayer. This is the heart of being a Christian. The Kingdom of God is Jesus’ plan for the renewal of the whole world and every aspect of how we live. Yet, all-too-often we turn this into a personal, private, individualistic spiritual/hobby. The Kingdom of God is not intended to be as small and insignificant as a private personal piety. The Kingdom is a project for the reclamation of the world world and the healing of the lives of everyone. This is no small project.

The reason that I share this with you is because it seems long past time to offer a strongly worded criticism of how our politics are going during this pandemic. The heart of the Kingdom of God is the message of abundant life (Jn. 10:10). This is primarily done through care for the poor, those who suffer injustice, and all those on the margins (Mt. 25:31-46). Yet, our current politics is obsessed with power and money in direct opposition to life and the poor. Our current political leaders are more focused on fomenting division to push forward their agenda of getting the economy going. This often is associate with brandishing weapons and symbols of oppression and racial division. This is directly ignoring and opposed to the care of those who are sick, could become sick, or care for the sick. On top of this the majority of those who are suffering from this pandemic are the poor, black, and brown people.

But, let’s not think that only one side of the politics aisle is guilty of hypocrisy and moral deficiency. It wasn’t that long ago when the most recent Supreme Court justice was going through his confirmation process. He was accused of sexual abuse. There was a huge chorus of people insisting that the alleged victim must be trusted and listened to. However, now that the political roles and political parties are reversed the same people who were insisting that victims be heard and trusted are silent or actually siding with the alleged abuser.

Finally as a global depression looms over our economic system and millions are out of work the wealthiest folks on the planet have made hundreds of billions of dollars. The division between the rich and the poor is growing larger and faster than ever before.

This may all seem off topic but I’m struck how political every conversation about the pandemic is. The one lasting impression is how broken our political, social, and economic system is.

My hope and prayer is that a global pandemic might shock us out of our slumber as force us to see the injustice, immorality, and inequality in our current society and our way of life. This moment in our lives is not just a health crisis but possibly an existential crisis. I propose that we take Jesus’ idea of the Kingdom of God as a critique of the status quo and a source of inspiration and creativity for the future.

Father Peter Tremblay has been the Associate Chaplain for Catholic Life since 2016. He is a member of the Franciscan religious community and was ordained a Catholic Priest in 2012. Peter served as an associate pastor at St. Paul Church in Kensington, CT as well as a theology and philosophy teacher at Archbishop Curley High School in Baltimore, MD.  

Peter earned a Masters of Divinity degree from the Washington Theological Union in 2011. He works hard to advance the multifaith work of the Truitt Center especially Jewish and Catholic interfaith activities.

Contact: ptremblay@elon.edu

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