Gospel Woman Speaks for “misfits” outside traditional religious boundaries

Gospel Woman Challenges Jesus
“But look,” Gospel Woman Calls Jesus to Re-think his Mission:  Painting by Consilia Karli

 

“…even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the table of their masters” she said to Jesus when he protested against her plea for her daughter’s healing. (Mt 15:27)

So says the foreign woman who insisted against all odds that Jesus heal her daughter...”  (Matthew Chap 7: 21-28 and Mark Chap 7: 24-30)

Jesus, by right of Jewish law, Scripture, AND tradition, ignored this pagan Canaanite woman’s plea for his attention.

He ignored her because she did not fit into the the cultural and religious paradigm of salvation which formed his mind and conscience. She was NOT only a woman but a foreign-born, Gentile woman…challenging the man who saw himself as messiah of the Jewish people.

What moxie, what strength of character, what nerve she had!

It is no wonder Jesus’ disciples were irritated by her, as they came and asked Jesus, “Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.” (Mt 7:23)

But she persisted and INSISTED. And thus Jesus addressed her explaining, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 15:24)

It took a woman, a foreigner, a pagan woman to see Jesus beyond the confines of his own imagination. He wasn’t going to heal her daughter of the demon which plagued her, no matter how she cried out. It wasn’t His Father’s Will, as far as he could see. She was just a foreign pagan woman. What did she know of his mission as Messiah to the Children of God?

But she persisted and INSISTED. What moxie, what strength of character, what nerve she had!

She would NOT be dismissed. She would NOT give up her desire to be part of the inclusive love of God Jesus was proclaiming. Nor would she give up her faith in him as the one who loves large.

Jesus almost listened to his friends and followers. But something made him stop. His compassion for her? …perhaps.

He engages her… at first explaining why he couldn’t help her… God’s will…his mission was at stake…the children of Israel were his only concern. “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs” he explained in a moment of cognitive dissonance. (Mk 7:27)

Yet she stood her ground and reminded him,”…even the dogs eat the crumbs from the table where the children eat.” The crumbs…yes, the crumbs… Jesus must have pondered her response to the moral dilemma she presented to him:

“Crumbs for the dogs under the table? Is it possible?
A place for the outsider at the table of the children of God?
… even if only under the table?”

Unbeknownst to her, this foreign, pagan woman asked for nothing less than a quantum leap in Jesus’ understanding of his broader mission to the world. Then suddenly the moral dilemma resolves itself in Jesus’ mind:

“When she replied and said to him, ‘Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s scraps.; Then Jesus said to her in reply, ‘O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.’ And her daughter was healed from that hour. 
(Mark 7: 28 and Matthew 15: 28)

This foreign woman’s faith in God’s Love…her faith in her worth as a person in God’s eyes…and her faith in Jesus and his preaching…THIS faith is what brought Jesus to a moral dilemma in conflict with his Jewish tradition.

This moral dilemma called forth a choice, on Jesus part, between a strict interpretation of tradition and a quantum leap in theological consciousness of how tradition is to be interpreted in his time. It required a quantum leap in Jesus’ understanding of who God is and what God wants…in his historical time and culture.*

Isn’t this the leap in consciousness that we need today in order to re-vision the theology that forms the basis of all doctrine, governance and liturgy in our Church?

Isn’t this the very sense of a living tradition that Vatican II continues to call forth from Christianity and Catholicism today?

*    *   *.  *.  *.  *

NOTE: Some assume that Jesus knew it all and needed no development of conscience or consciousness, but that would be heresy in regard to Jesus’ full embrace of humanity as defined in the doctrine of the Incarnation.  More to come…

Post-VATICAN II RITE, Theological Activism for the Sake of World Survival, Peace, and Justice

Post-Vatican II efforts to significantly rethink Catholic theology have been suppressed over the past few decades, in the same way that the implementation of a Post-Vatican II Rite has been suppressed. WHY?

  • Because a post-Vatican II Theology would cut across the political and economic agendas of western civilization, both church and state?
  • Because a post-Vatican II Theology created cracks in the wall that kept Judeo-Christian scriptures and tradition within strict political and economic boundaries?
  • Because the foundation and daily functioning of top-down church/state structures depend most heavily on the Roman “God-in-charge” model?
  • Because the survival of western political/economic agendas depends on the  image of an all-knowing, all powerful, judgmental (exclusionary) God-in-Charge?   If that image changes, do political/economic agendas change as well?

Modern communication breakthroughs have chipped away at the religious rationale and justification of the Roman Rite western model of authority and power as the gift and will of God.  This “chipping away” appears to some as an attack on “God-in-Charge” theology, as if there can only be one and only one theological view of authority .

Post-Vatican II progressive theology emphasizes power-sharing images of God as core scriptural and traditional concepts…concepts heretofore minimized and neglected in favor of the Roman Rite western standard.

Constructionist/activist theologian, Joerg Rieger* explains that the “God in Charge” theological perspective is not the only one, nor even the most beneficial one for society in our time.  Rieger explores the popularity and success of right wing theological activism in our time and poses this question:

“Is it possible that Trump’s way of projecting power resonates with the way in which many people of faith perceive God’s power to be at work?”


  • (God/Trump) as a doer who can single-handedly fix things if he wants to.
  • (God/Trump who) acts without consulting others and without asking for permission
  • (God/Trump who) acts without being influenced by anyone else.
  • (God/Trump) projects power…strictly from the top down, from a subject to its objects, from the ruler to the ruled.
  • (God/Trump) can do anything. According to this logic, might also makes things right.

If “Trump’s way of projecting power resonates with the way in which many people of faith perceive God’s power to be at work,” then the post-Vatican II Rite urgently needs to engage in a Theological Activism that highlights shared power as bona fide scriptural and tradition-based concepts and practices…shared power in no way inferior to the efficient Roman model.

The present underlying theological substructure of politics/economics continues to support the political rise and popularity of dictator-type personalities and trickle-down economics.  With no input from progressive activist theologians, is there any hope for substantive change of heart and mind in regard to the stranger? …or any hope, that matter, for change in the ultimately apocalyptic direction in which we are moving at full speed ahead?

Activist progressive theologians, Joerg Rieger* and Kwok Pui Lan*, raise two important questions for us to ponder:

  1.  Is it time for people of faith to think more deeply about the God they are worshiping and the kinds of power they want to support?
  2. SHOULD we be leaving prayer-based theological activism solely in the hands of politically conservative religious leaders? (And, whether we acknowledge it or not, are we already doing so at our own peril and the peril of our faith, country, and world?)

A post-Vatican II rite in union with Rome has no fear to engage in prayer-based Theological Activism in ecumenical dialogue…exploring how we might see God in new ways…in wisdom ways that are invitational, NOT confrontational or polarizing.

——————————————-

References:
*Activist theologian and author of several books on this subject, Joerg Rieger, co-author of OCCUPY RELIGION: Theology of the Multitude with Kwok Pui Lan are both part of the Occupy Theology Movement.

JOERG RIEGER’s Website: http://joergrieger.com/

URL Link for Huffington Post piece: “Divine Power, Donald Trump, and How the 2016 Presidential Elections Challenge Common Religious Assumption” by Joerg Rieger

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joerg-rieger/divine-power-donald-trump_b_12488082.html

Reform Roman Catholicism, A Rational Alternative?

Poor Pope Francis, his hands are tied by literal interpretations of tradition regarding women’s ordination, GLBT, Communion for the divorced and other issues.

As Patriarch of the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church; he is caught between a rock and a hard place…between:

  • ancient interpretations of papal leadership rooted in monarchical male dominion with its considerable $$$ support
    and
  • modern understandings of leadership rooted in a cultural consciousness which rejects monarchic models for that of democratic unity.

How ironic is it that democracy-oriented “Catholics for reform” maintain that Pope Francis should speak as a monarch and command the Roman Rite to change.  How strange it is that reform-minded Catholics also express great satisfaction when  Pope Francis demotes or dismisses Romanist ultra-conservatives from office, no?

Doesn’t this type of reform-minded Catholicism wind up advancing the same “get rid of the opposition” uniformity position…a position that reformist Catholics have long criticized Romanist Catholics for using against Vatican II cardinals, bishops and pastors?

Despite the Roman Catholic position for a tradition against change,
reform-minded Catholics console themselves with the belief that Roman Catholicism will change eventually, even if they do not live to see that change.

A thousand years ago, Roman Rite Catholicism could not force the Eastern Catholic Churches to accept and practice Western interpretations of catholic theology, governance, and liturgy.  And so they worked out a settlement.

The settlement worked out to keep unity between East and West.  You might call the settlement a “toleration policy”…allowing Eastern Rite/Church differences such as married priests and collegial governance… as long as they promised to recognize the Patriarch of Rome as head of the Catholic Church.

This tradition of “friendly toleration” has been applied most recently with the Anglican Catholic Rite/Church which promises union with the Pope as Patriarch of Rome.   SO, why can’t dissent on this matter of women’s ordination and other matters be resolved by our Church’s ancient “toleration” policy…Roman Rite toleration of a Vatican II Rite/Church with its different interpretations and practices of theology, governance and liturgy?  …a Vatican II Rite in union with Rome?   Why not?

Dare We Catholics Believe Differently?

Literal & Poetic Interpretations of Catholicism, the real split?