Thursday, August 4, 2011

Jesus is more political than you think, says priest

Christ may have been put to death for more than perceived heresy

Father Stanley Azaro, OP
It is popular in society to say Jesus is a wise religious figure. People call him a teacher, philosopher, healer, or martyr. But a political figure? That perception is not widely viewed.

According to Father Stanley Azaro, OP Jesus is more political then one thinks. Giving a talk at St Mary's August 2 in Vancouver called "Is Jesus Political?", Father Azaro painted Christ as a controversial, dangerous, and political foe. Not exactly the loving Lord and Saviour perceived by Christians and society as a whole.

Father Azaro didn't say Christ meant to be a political, but according to one's definition of the word, Jesus was and is very politically active.

Father backed up his point by first giving a little history lesson. Using both biblical and historical facts, he spoke about the political situation in Israel/Palestine at the time. The Roman Empire was in control and had a difficult time controlling the Jews. While it is not stated in the Gospels directly, Father Azaro asserted that Christ's crucifixion had to be for more than just for heresy. The Romans may have feared the political will within the Jewish people, and with Jesus as their leader an uprising against the Empire could take place. Also the Romans controlled the Jewish Religious leadership at the time. So it wasn't inconceivable to think that maybe Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor, had more reasons to send Jesus to his death than just mad cries from the crowd.

Father Azaro also pointed out Jesus' disdain for the rich and compassion for the poor as a possible politically motivated teaching. At the time of Christ's Ministry, there was a huge gap between the rich and the poor. Most were wealthy by manipulating their own people and siding with the Roman Empire. Therefore, not only were the super rich manipulating and oppressing their own people, but also turning their back on their customs, traditions, and most importantly God.

Today Jesus is viewed outside of politics. According to Father Azaro, the separation between Church and State in the Western World has made it very hard to adapt Catholic Moral Teaching into today's political spheres. When asked about how a Catholic could bring more of the Faith and Morals into politics, he referenced Msgr John A. Ryan, who was lobbyist in Washington. He also said to talk to one's representative and be vocal about disagreements.

Father Azaro also said to research the choices given by political parties. He was unable to speak specifically of the Canadian Political situation as he is an American, but was able to convey that any political decision is difficult and will not be perfectly balanced with Catholic Moral Teaching.

A Dominican Priest, Father Azaro is highly educated on the political subject matter, attending among others Harvard University. He also teaches theology in New York, where he also resides.

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