Whose kingdom do you prefer?
In The Episcopal Church, we use the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL), which is a pattern for reading through the Bible in worship which we share with hundreds of millions of Christians from a variety of denominations. Sometimes, the RCL offers options at it does this week with a choice of three Gospel texts. At King of Peace we will go for the first option as our Gospel reading for tomorrow, though I will add in the missing three verses found in the reading for Holy Innocents Day but skipped in this Sunday reading. These verses tell of the innocent babies in Bethlehem who died by order of King Herod in an attempt to kill the infant Messiah predicted by prophets and worship by the Magi.
Katerina Whitley's sermon on this passage says in part,
The gospel reading today reminds us that Jesus was born at a time that held little to no regard for human life. Emperors and kings reigned supreme, considering themselves equal to gods. They held the power to kill, and there was no one to hold them accountable....
Look at the history of the Herods and compare them to the stories of Jesus – the child born to a poor young mother who said yes to God; the child protected by a good man named Joseph who obeyed the words of the messengers of God. Who made a difference in subsequent history and in the hearts of human beings? Who is remembered with love and devotion? Who is worshiped and obeyed? And whose life and death changed the world? Think about Herod and then think about Jesus of Nazareth. Whose kingdom do you prefer?
One bribes the Romans with money taken from the taxes of the poor people of Judea in order to curry favor with the conquerors and hold on to his throne. The other urges his followers to give what they have to the poor while he himself lives as one who has nowhere to lay his head.
Herod uses violence that brings forth more violence; Jesus resists violence by offering peace and forgiveness.
Herod builds palaces and temples to his own glory while Jesus builds the kingdom of God by turning the values of power and wealth upside down.
One lives by injustice, the other by justice.
Herod orders death while Jesus offers life.
Who is the one we long to emulate?
Labels: Gospel reading