Jesus and the people of Judea lived under the heel of the Roman army and of Tiberius, the emperor, which is a fancy name for dictator. The Zealots were the political movement of the time, working to foment a rebellion against the occupying army — a revolution that ultimately got Jerusalem pretty much leveled.
There’s not much about this in the Gospels.
One of the followers of Jesus was Simon the Zealot, and, on Good Friday, the crowd shouted to Pilate to free the rebel Barabbas and crucify Jesus.
“Children of light”
Jesus talks and acts, but the Gospel writers indicate nothing along the lines of the sharp and bitter emotions of modern-day partisan politics, none of the exaltation or angst at the twists and turns of the power dynamic.
He’s not talking about power in the usual human sense. He’s not talking about election results or about winners and losers. “Render to God the things that are God’s.”
Paul echoes this in his letter to the Thessalonians, today’s second reading. It’s a reading about the coming of “the day of the Lord.” This, he writes, will surprise many, but not Christians.
For all of you are children of the light and children of the day. We are not of the night or of darkness. Therefore, let us not sleep as the rest do, but let us stay alert and sober.
“Alert and sober”
It’s essential for me, as a child of the light, to work for justice and charity in politics and in the exercise of power.
More important, though, is for me to “stay alert and sober” for the movement of the Spirit and to live justice and charity in my relationships with everyone — my family, my colleagues, strangers.
Patrick T. Reardon