True Religion Does Not Sell Out

Then Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, sent to King Jeroboam of Israel, saying, ‘Amos has conspired against you in the very centre of the house of Israel; the land is not able to bear all his words.  (Amos 7.10)

Today we will read again the story of John the Baptist’s beheading and no doubt, as we do, our imaginations will be infused with some obscene images from the current and ongoing ISIS attacks across the Middle East and elsewhere. Whatever else fuels ISIS, they are prostituting religion for political cause.

In today’s psalm, we will read that, in God, “Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed eachother”. Christianity believes this Jewish Scripture. So does Islam. Amos, the rough farmer prophet, believed it. Amaziah, respected religious leader, it seems did not. Or, if he did, he had long since sold out his faith to the political hierarchy in exchange for an easy life. No wonder he thought “the land” could not bear the words of truth. Similarly, Herod Antipas, though stirred by the truth he recognized deep down in the Baptist’s prophetic ministry, sought to sever his own conscience by executing the prophet.

ISIS, Antipas, Amaziah, purveyors of contemporary imperialism, be they Western capitalistists or otherwise, will seek to harness privitized religion when it suits purpose.

Scripture tells us this is always wrong. True religion is not privitized. True religion says the way of God is peace, shalom, tangnefedd. We must beat swords into ploughshares and learn war no more (Isaiah 2.4 ). True religion recognizes Amos and not Amaziah. It is non-violent but its non-violence is radical and it confronts the privatizer and the oppressor. In true religion, mercy, truth, righteousness and peace, by the grace of God, meet and kiss. True religion does not sell out. Ever.

~ by Fr Tim Ardouin on July 11, 2015.

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