Friday, October 3, 2014

Religious crisis

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Buenas Noticias: Blog de Jose Antonio Pagola
October 5, 2014

Matthew 21:33-43

The parable of the "murderous tenants" is a story through which Jesus is revealing with allegorical accents God's history with His chosen people. It's a sad story. God had cared for them tenderly since the beginning. They were His "favorite vineyard". He hoped to make of them a people exemplary for their righteousness and faithfulness. They would be a "great light" for all the peoples.

However that people rejected and killed the prophets that God sent to them to gather the fruits of a more just life, one after another. Finally, in an incredible gesture of love, he sent them His only Son. But the leaders of that people did him in. What can God do with a people that so blindly and stubbornly frustrates His expectations?

The religious leaders who were listening attentively to the story answered spontaneously in the same terms of the parable: the lord of the vineyard can't do anything else except put those laborers to death and put his vineyard in the hands of others. Jesus quickly draws a conclusion they did not expect: "Therefore, I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit."

Commentators and preachers have often interpreted Jesus' parable as the reaffirmation of the Christian Church as the "new Israel" after the Jewish people had been dispersed throughout the world following the destruction on Jerusalem in year 70.

However, the parable is also talking about us. An honest reading of the text forces us to ask ourselves serious questions: Are we producing "the fruits" God expects of His people in our times -- justice for the excluded, solidarity, compassion towards the suffering, forgiveness...?

God doesn't have to bless a sterile Christianity from which He isn't receiving the benefits He expects. He doesn't have to identify Himself with our mediocrity, our inconsistencies, deviations, and lack of fidelity. If we don't answer His expectations, God will continue to open new ways for His plan of salvation with other people who produce fruits of justice.

We talk about a "religious crisis", "de-Christianization", "neglect of religious practice"...Might not God be preparing the way that makes possible the birth of a Church that is more faithful to the plan of the Kingdom of God? Might not this crisis be necessary for a Church to be born that is less powerful but more gospel-centered, less numerous but more committed to making a more humane world? Might not new generations come who are more faithful to God?