Jesus and the Reign of God: A Challenge to church and society. Liverpool, Jan 15th, 2012.
Palestinian life under the Roman Empire The context of Jesus life and teaching
Economic Effects of Roman Occupation • Taxes: Direct 25% of produce, indirect 5% from customs, tolls and VAT! • Role of Tax-collectors Mk. 2:13; Lk 19: 1-10 • Plus Temple Taxes, Priest’s Tithe and 2nd Tithe for Jerusalem. Cf Josephus, Antiquities 17, 8,4; 17, 11, 04.
Roman control through Debt and Patronage • Latifundiathe creation of large estates with resident Stewards and absentee Landlords cf. Good and Bad Stewards in Lk 12:42; 16:1-9 and greedy landowners Lk 12: 16-21. • Emergence of new landless day- labourers. Cf. parable of workers in the vinyard Mth 20: 1-15
The Jewish Leadership • Herod Antipas in Galilee • The Sanhedrin in Jerusalem • The people are “sheep without shepherds” Jn 10:11-13 • Solidarity with the masses is the only true power. Cf the tradition of the Prophets Jer 2;50, 5:17; Is 56:11 – “greedy dogs!”; Ez 34:3; Psalm 53
Jesus developing practice • Critique of the Temple – centre of sacrifice and redemption, ideological control, bank and marketplace. A challenge to the temple was a challenge to massive religious and political vested interests. • Parable of the Good Samaritan Lk 10:29-37 • The curses on the rich Lk 6;24-26
Parables of the Alternative Kingdom • To groups • to provoke, • raise awareness. • the starting point of a process • not the end. • To see the point was to see the world differently
Jesus reversal of the Great Tradition • Either something is wrong here or something is wrong in paradise • Abraham who the elite had used as the symbol of their class and who in a certain sense legitimated their rule (Lk 3:7-9) in Jesus story restores true kinship and hospitality to the destitute.(Lk13:28-29)
Workers in the Vineyard : Solidarity Lost and Oppression revealed. Mth 20:1-16 • experience of the people • a renewed perspective, “the kingdom of God”, • subjects of their own history • to provoke collective reflection, discussion and debate, • starting from the conflicted reality we find ourselves in .
Jesus God is Free from convention Free for sharing – shared table Free for the new, for potential God’s Kingdom is: Shared joy Inclusive table fellowship Shalom of creation Limitless giving Generosity expressed in Lk 15 open banquet& lost sheep; Mth 20 the unemployed workers who all get paid Characteristics of the Reign of Abba
Logic of the kingdom • A movement of communion starting from the poor. Lk 6: 38 “give and there will be gifts for you, a full measure, pressed into your lap; because the amount you measure out, is the amount you will be given back.” • A particular exercise of authority: enabling power at the service of the masses. A basic equality based on justice and compassion
The Big Society • It is always a risk when the community of the kingdom of God finds common cause with a political great plan . • When you sup with the devil you need a long spoon!