Summary: Civilizations rise and fall as well as personal lives because of the quality of the relationship institutions and individuals sustain with God. God is merciful to those who approach him in humility and receive His graces joyfully.
RIGHTEOUSNESS BEFORE GOD - LUKE 18:9
Why do civilizations fail? Why do great cities fall to their enemies?
Jesus wept over Jerusalem as he foresaw that the city was doomed to yet a 3rd visitation by her enemies. He saw that once again the engines of war would surround the city, the temple would once again be destroyed, the inhabitants put to the sword and scattered.
Jesus had said, “If only you had known the things that make for peace. . .”
He had patiently taught, “Turn the other cheek. . . .if a man compels you
to walk with him one mile, go with him two. . .” Picture the situation of
the People who lived in the Holy Land at that time. A Roman soldier,
the army of occupation would meet you on the road and ask you to carry
his armor. . .go the second mile with him. . .give him a blessing, not a
curse. Jesus was teaching non-violent survival techniques. This is the way
to change a violent situation to the way of peace.
James Mitchener’s said a purpose of the revealed religions was to teach men to live together in peace by instructing them in righteousness. The great principles of peace among nations are these revealed truths: righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people. The judgements of God was pronounced through the mouth of his on a variety of ancient nations who failed to keep treaties, who oppressed their poor, who treated one another viciously in war. . .
using weapons unnecessarily viscious. ..that did more than defend.
The principle of righteousness, justice, and finding the way of peace is
the important work to be done between oneself and ones neighbor whether
we look at the individual or that corporate person, the nation under God.
One of the evidences to me that the Diocese of the Eastern United States was part of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church was that meeting in synod, she was able to teach an important lesson in righteousness in the issue of sacredness of life. This was an important teaching because it is aimed not only at saying the unborn, the child in the mother’s womb is sacred, but also that all of life is sacred. It is saying we should not experiment on people, we should not presume to know when a person’s purpose in life is fulfilled and make possible the active termination of that life early as I believe the law in Oregon allows. The collect that begins with the words, “O God, who holds all souls in life. . .” reminds us of the boundary that God has set in regard to who gives and takes life.
One aspect of our righteous behavior as an individual and as a nation is that we should respect life, count it sacred. It is a gift of God to be cherished and revered and not ours to take. Thou shalt not kill is one of the earliest laws revealed to us .
IN TODAY’S GOSPEL (LUKE 18:9) JESUS SPEAKS OF THE
INDIVIDUALS RIGHTEOUSNESS BEFORE GOD AND HOW IT
To make this lesson clear to us, he teaches us by example. In this
parable there is the Pharisee who represents to the professional practitioner
of religion, who was held in high esteem in his community. There was
also the publican – the despised tax collector. Tax collectors are never
popular, but those in the holy land at that time had a special reason for
being despised. They collected taxes not only for the local government,
but they supported the army of occupation, they represented the Roman
So what we have in this illustration are symbols of two types of government -
or human administration: the religious and the secular.
Tax collectors were regarded by the Jewish audience as particularly venal.
John the Baptist had earlier warned them about righteous administration.
When they came to John to be baptized and asked “What should we do. . .
John said, “Stop collecting more than what is prescribed.” When soldiers
asked John “What should we do?” John told them “Do not practice extortion, do not falsely accuse anyone, and be satisfied with your wages.”
When Jesus began teaching about righteousness, the audience already
knew John the Baptist’s teaching, as well as Jesus’ teaching about righteous
treatment of one another. They no doubt expected him to come down hard
on the tax-collector. Just as today people would not think it unusual if
the preacher preached against unfair judgments by our political leaders,
the legal system or questionable business administrations.
Does a preacher have to say that the governors, the legal administrators
should be moral and fair? We all know that, just as Jesus’ audience knew