RELIGIOUS AND POLITICAL PERSPECTIVES

The beheading of John the Baptist, which feast was commemorated this past week, illustrates well how one significant event can be viewed from diverse perspectives.

Josephus, the secular historian in New Testament times, saw Herod’s action of beheading John the Baptist as politically motivated.  According to Josephus, Herod feared that the very popular John might lead a rebellion against him.  So Herod arrested John, brought him in chains to the fortress Machaerus and executed him.
Mark the Evangelist presented John as morally confronting Herod in regard to his illegal marriage to Herodius and presents John in his passion and death as a prophetic forerunner of Jesus in his passion and death.
Take any public situation today and there is probably a political dimension to it as well as a moral aspect.  People, including religious folks, Catholics included, can ignore the moral or ethical perspective because of a heavily imbedded political ideology.  Often the political lens stays in place while the moral lens is discarded or covered over.
The Gospel offers a basis for a moral or religious perspective.  The Gospel is the lens to asses all that happens in the world.  That is not to say that non-religious people do not have a moral or ethical perspective, maybe even one that surpasses or challenges the believer.  But it does say that the Christian fails to follow Christ if he/she does not form his or her conscience in the light of the gospel which presents to us the word of God.  What is sad is when Christians refuse to allow the word of God to penetrate their political convictions.
The Kingdom of God, as taught by Jesus, is the leaven for society.  The Gospel does not claim to have answers to all the complex and complicated human and social problems but it does offer a perspective from God on how we are to look at all our human experiences, actions and decisions in life.  Jesus is the light of the world.
While Catholics do indeed recognize the autonomy of the political sphere, nevertheless they see the urgency of transforming the world in the light of Christ, beginning, of course, within the life of the Church herself.
God is present in every aspect and dimension of life.

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