Monday, February 11, 2013

God's Kingdom, and the Papacy's Kingdom: One is Not Like the Other

Pope Benedict XVI will be stepping down at the end of February leaving the Pontiff position open.  The Cardinals will gather together in secret while the world will wait and watch for the rising smoke that signifies a new Pope.  With the Vatican's various missteps in theology, scandal, and unawareness make me wonder if this new appointment will even matter.

In Mathew 16 Jesus gives Peter the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven.  This is the reason for the Peterine Pontiff.  A careful reading shows that Jesus most likely did not give Peter himself the keys, but all his disciples.  If we read it where Jesus gives such responsibility to all his gathered disciples, than would this key not be copied and handed down to all disciples of Jesus?

Jesus wanted to let Peter and his disciples know that what they did on earth mattered.  The message of forgiveness, healing, and God's love was theirs to share.  They were given a message that invited people to a new life, a whole life, an eternal life.  The key was not for the disciples and Peter to hold people spiritually captive.  The Vatican, however, has become a city built for its own purposes.  The hat, the shoes, the clothes have removed the simple and powerful message from the broken and moved to the halls of decadence and indifference. 

Jesus, Peter, and his disciple did not sit upon thrones removed from the dirtiness of life.  Jesus washed feet, touched those with infectious skin diseases, stayed in the homes of greedy tax thieves, spoke and showed true love to prostitutes, slept in boats in the middle of storms, laid his head on rocks, and died on the cross.  Is the Pope not to be this example?

Unfortunately I do not see the Vatican being serious about the message of Jesus.  If the Cardinals, and Bishops, and Vatican royalty were authentic about the life giving message of Jesus our Christ, they would abdicate all their power, wealth, comfort, and position.

There are so many priests, pastors, and preachers who have given up so much only to have their message of good news to the poor, weak, sad, and imprisoned corrupted by the lie lived by the Pontiff. 

The truth is the Kingdom of God invites us to join the advancing ranks of God's love and forgiveness.  However, we cannot serve two masters, nor can we serve two Kingdoms.  We cannot serve God and money, God and pride, God and fame, God and Vatican, God and Republicans, Democrats, Tea Party, or any other.  God invites us to empty ourselves of any desire for power, money, and influence exemplified by the Vatican so that God can fill us with hope, peace, and joy. 

Therefore let us not sit and wait idly why another Kingdom elects its leader.  The truth is we have been given the Keys to another Kingdom.  While many other places may keep us locked out Christ not only invites us in, but he gives us keys.  Let us be active in using those keys to invite others into the ever expanding loving Kingdom of God.

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