I was glancing at today's Gospel and saw it was the feeding of the five thousand. And I thought, "What a time for this lesson!" Our country is standing on the edge of a financial breakdown with no money to pay our creditors around the globe. Why? How? Because we are no longer a democracy; we have become the great American lunacracy! We are governed by the most fearful and angry bunch of intransigents we could have ever elected.
Thanks be to God the disciples of Jesus were not members of the so-called Tea Party. Otherwise, that feeding story would have gone something like this:
"The crowds were gathered and hungry and nightfall was coming. Jesus turned to his disciples and said, 'Let's get out those two fish and five loaves of bread so I can bless them and distribute them equally amongst all the people.' But the disciples said, 'No!' When Judas attempted to reach for one of the fish to give to Jesus, John and James tackled him. Peter scolded Jesus, weeping and saying, 'These are our fish and bread given to us. If this crowd is hungry, it's not our fault. They should have gone shopping during the day!'"
My take on the Gospel story from Matthew only has the slightest bit to do with our current political crisis. When I read this feeding story, I am struck by the phrase, "And all ate and were filled..." The very first time I really heard this passage three years ago, it blew open all the doors and windows in my brain. It was a powerful and simple illustration of the love of God, a love that can take what seems finite and make it infinite and give equal amounts of love to each one of us... with leftovers! No one is left out. No one gets any more or any less than the next person. And "all ate and were filled."
Because of our human nature which sees boundaries and beginnings and endings to things, this concept of an infinite "all" is mind boggling. Surely there must be limits? There's no way God intends that all of us are to be loved? As the Austin Lounge Lizards sing, "Jesus loves me, but he can't stand you!"
Not true. When the word is "all" it really does mean "all." Again, the apostle Paul speaks eloquently to this point when he says in Romans that there is nothing that separates us from the love of God. The only thing that can do that is our unwillingness to believe and trust that God really does love us unconditonally and doesn't have some hidden agenda to pull the rug out from under us.
So, what does any of this have to do with the debt ceiling debacle? What I see in the midst of all the stubbornness and the willingness to plunge our national credit rating into the toilet is a political strategy of not wanting the "other guy" to have a "win". Specifically, President Obama. It is not a secret that the Republican Party agenda has been to do whatever it can to prevent the President from achieving anything. That's an age-old tactic that's been done on both sides of the American political aisle. But such behavior used to have limits when there was a real national interest at stake. This Congress, however, is infused with a tea bag that's sat for too long in the water and is bitter and nasty. And they are willing to make American taxpayers suffer with the potential of higher interest rates because they don't like minorities, especially when they become President. And they are so reckless that they are willing to let small businesses, the poor, and the helpless suffer. Because, for all that they may wrap themselves in the flag and thump their bibles, they are not patriots and they are perverting the words of Christ.
"All", for them, means "all for them."
What a contrast to see how God intended us to understand "all." And I say, "God, help us all!"