Saturday, July 14, 2012

This world is not my home

Charles Chaput is the Catholic Archbishop of Philadelphia. I first read him when he was in Denver and have since then always found that his arguments merited attention. This is from a summary of his recent homily about the relationship of the Christian to the state:
.... Archbishop Chaput began...by referring to Paul Claudel, a French poet and dramatist of the last century, and a devout believer. Surveying western secularization, Claudel observed that the Christian in the secularized West is “a man who knows what he is doing and where he is going” and therefore “alone has liberty in a world of slaves.” This transcendent perspective enables the Christian to resist the ideologies of modern states, which are based on materialism and science. These secular philosophies led nations and people who accepted them to the murder of millions of people, while Christians like Claudel continued to stand for truth. They had a duty to “render to Caesar,” but also to God, and Archbishop Chaput then asked how Jesus based his admonition to proper duties signaled by the images (of Caesar and God) which believers encounter. If taxes should be paid because money bears the image of the ruler, then human beings, who bear the image of God, should give their entire lives to him. [emphasis added] Love of country is honorable, but our real home is not on earth, and we should give Caesar nothing of ourselves. “Nothing permanent and important belongs to Caesar …we belong to God and only to God,” the Archbishop said. Real freedom is the freedom involved in loving God with our whole being, and this freedom which “knows no attachment other than Jesus Christ,” the freedom of the sons of God, isn’t something that the government can give or take away. Religious freedom is important because it is needed to facilitate this most basic freedom given by God.

Having shown religious freedom to be the most crucial freedom in the secular order, the archbishop then asked what the task of Christians should be in the contemporary world. Here he referred to the watchman (or sentinel) passage in Ezekiel (“I have appointed you as a sentinel. If I say to the wicked, ‘you will surely die’ – and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade them . . . I will hold you responsible for their blood”). We live in a time that calls for a sentinel, and are responsible for this today, not only to defend religious liberty, but also for the dignity of the human person, defending it in both words and deeds, and thus “live as disciples of Jesus Christ.” .... [more]
“Render to God” a Total Claim on Christians « Juicy Ecumenism