What would happen if they threw a war and nobody showed up? That was the great question of the late ‘60s.
“Jesus went around all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel/succulent meat of the kingdom/basilica, and curing every disease and illness among the people.”
“As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He told them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” At once, they left their nets and followed him. He walked along from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him. He went around all of Galilee. He was teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness among the people.” Gospel for the Third Sunday of Ordinary Time.
Psalm 118 is the last Psalm of the Hallel, the Great Psalm recited at Passover. “Better to take refuge in the NAME than to put one’s trust in mortals. Better to take refuge in the NAME than to put one’s trust in princes.” Psalm 146:3-4 “Put no trust in princes, in children of Adam powerless to save. Who breathing his last, returns to the earth; that day all his planning comes to nothing.” Psalm 33:16-17, “A king is not saved by a great army, nor a warrior delivered by great strength. Useless is the horse for safety; despite its great strength, it cannot be saved.”
“Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?” Jesus said, “Why are you testing me, you hypocrites? Show me the coin that pays the census tax.” Then they handed him the Roman coin. He said, “Whose image is this and whose inscription?” They replied, “Caesar’s.” “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” Matthew 22:17-21
Give Caesar all the metal with his image on it. Do not be co-dependent. Do not accept or use anything with his stamp on it. When the Roman ruler gives commands, ignore them. If he throws a war, refuse to participate. If he forms a work party to build roads and bridges, go to your farming. Do not trust the king, his princes, the House and Senate, or his nobles, his supporters in private enterprise. Form your own corporations. Do not make them businesses, places for a hierarchy (Greek for high priest) to pay people to be busy. There is only one high priest and that is Jesus Christ. That is what St. Paul tells us in our Second reading. Make them places where all men are created equal, having a say in how they live their lives.
God is the only king. Everyone else is equal. We have a profession. How we live our lives is how we profess our faith. We have a vocation, calling from God. The kingdom of God is at hand if we want it to be. First, it means casting off the other kings, princes, and nobles. What would happen if they threw a war and nobody showed up? That is the goal. If we try violently to overthrow the current kings, princes, and nobles, we are throwing a war, and we are showing up. The goal is not to show up.
The kingdom is not the king, and it is not his princes. What is the kingdom? So, where is the kingdom of heaven? How shall we know it? Greek Rhetoric has something called Chiasmus.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of Tsaddik, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be (the) comforted (children of God.)
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God. (in the land)
Blessed are those hungering and thirsting for righteousness/Tsaddik/Justice/Charity. They will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. In Hebrew, Justice and Mercy are sister concepts.
The NAME, our God, cut a Brit with us at Horeb; not with our fathers did the NAME cut this Brit, but with us, all of us, alive, here, this day. (Remember) I am the NAME your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt/oppression, out of the house of menial labor.
Remember that you too were once menial laborers in the land of Egypt/oppression, and the NAME, your God, brought you out from there with a strong hand and outstretched arm.
Remember, when the Hebrews left Egypt, they committed no violence against Pharaoh or the Egyptians. God gave Ten Plagues; the Hebrew people did nothing but left. They followed Jesus’ advice, given millennia later. Give Pharaoh all of what belonged to Pharaoh, except some gold and silver, which they later used to make a golden calf. Give all that stuff to Pharaoh, and simply leave. Let us form our own society where all are created and treated equal.
Remember what it was like to be oppressed. Then remember your rescue. When you see others suffering, let it bring back the bad memory, and then remember God rescued you. You are strong now. The bully’s attack on the less fortunate is an attack upon you. Get involved. Blessed are the poor in spirit, those who remember what it was like to be on the receiving end. Blessed are the persecuted for the sake of Tsaddik, charity/justice. We stand together. This standing together is the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom is here when we stand up for the outcast, the bullied of the world. The Latins have a word, natio- from which we receive our word, nation. It is a people born together. The Hebrew is “AM.” “AM” also means mother. A nation is a people with a common mother, our Blessed Virgin. For Americans, it is the lady in the harbor.
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, with conquering limbs astride from land to land; Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand Glows world-wide welcome, her mild eyes command the air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame. “Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she with silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me; I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
These are the words of a Russian immigrant Jewish girl. The nation is the nation of immigrants who came from other there to over here for the same reason God rescued the Hebrews from Egypt, to escape oppression.
The kingdom of heaven, the Christian nation, is not a political event. The kingdom of heaven is whenever people come together to escape oppression. Imagine a nation where everyone was so busy remembering their rescue that they did not have time to take the name of their rescuer as anything less than the person who personally rescued them from oppression. “Not with our fathers did the NAME cut this Brit, but with us, all of us, alive, here, this day.” He did not rescue ancestors alive in the time of Thomas Jefferson, Madison, and the rest. He rescues us. We are the ones not living in those terrible times. He rescued us. Remember your rescue.
Imagine a nation where everyone was so busy remembering their rescue they did not have time to attribute their rescue to anyone other than the one rescuing them, God. Imagine a nation who took one whole day off each week to remember that rescue, reflecting on what it means to be a rescued people. Then imagine them listening to the stories of that rescue from their parents. Then think of how they would be so busy doing these things, they would not have time to even think about hurting others, taking their stuff, saying bad things about them, doing anything to break up their marital bonds, remembering they are the bride of Christ, so remembering their marital bonds reflect God’s marital bonds with us. This nation is the kingdom of heaven.
God and Moses designed the kingdom of heaven to be utopian. Now, look at Moses’ two main helpers. Aaron, the Cohen, official, and Jesus Ben Nun. “Nun,” is a Hebrew word, meaning fish. Jesus Ben-Nun, Jesus Son of the Fish, then goes out and grabs four fishermen. It is no co-incidence that he picks fishermen. The son of the fish picks fishermen as his followers. First, they throw out nets, and then they repair them. Jesus Ben-Nun, following Moses, following God, picks fishermen to cast out, apostle, fishermen, and then he repairs them. Matthew only tells us that Jesus went into synagogues, Greek for leading together places, for the purpose of proclaiming the kingdom and healing. The kingdom is about this gathering of people and this healing. It is not about violence. It is not about kings, princes, or nobles. It is about holding these truths to be self-evident, that all people are created equal, endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, and that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, and where Pursuit of Happiness presupposes a reasonable chance of success.
If your nation does not have this, it is not a Christian Nation. If you want the kingdom of God to be among you, then go out of your way to create it.