The kingdom of God – God’s dream for the world, breaking into our midst – is a topsy turvy place. In our Gospel, Jesus controversially declares that the path towards the kingdom demands renouncing our possessions. Does this saying shock and discomfort us too?
Jesus knew that all too often, our attachment to wealth, power, and possessions separates us from authentic relationship with our neighbor, with creation, and ultimately reduces our capacity to love and follow God with authenticity. When we examine the root causes of disparity in our world, we find astonishing histories and present realities of exploitation, colonization, violence, and white supremacy. We find ourselves implicated in pervasive systemic injustice – collective sin – as we consider all our power, privilege, and wealth and how we got and keep it. As Christians who yearn for the kingdom of God, Jesus calls us to repentance and transformation away from the systems and stuff that hold us all captive. We are invited instead to partner in God’s dream of love and justice for this world, through downward mobility, solidarity, and prophetic actions which challenge the status quo and point to God’s kingdom. We are called to a topsy-turvy way of life.
Of course this is not easy. It is challenging, painful work that requires commitment, community, and prayer. I am consoled by Jesus’ words today: “For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God." Jesus also promises that it is worth it – that transformation can offer us back something different and new, a hundred times over. I don’t think Jesus meant more stuff, but rather that we’ll find a new abundance, capacity for love, gratitude, and relationship as we follow God’s call into the topsy-turvy world of the kingdom.
As we mark Indigenous Peoples’ Day this week, let us recognize and lament how wealth, power, greed, and exploitation have been part of this country’s founding history, and continue to be etched into the fabric of our society. Let us also remember and honor the resistance, resilience, and incredible gifts of indigenous peoples, who have thrived in and contributed greatly to this region despite the consequences of systemic oppression. Let us pray that God’s wisdom and grace will give us the courage to transform our way of life, to disrupt the systems we are part of, so that we may all walk together towards the kingdom of God.
~ JoAnn Melina Lopez, Campus Minister for Liturgy