På begäran kommer här en engelsk översättning av predikan jag höll på THS idag, 2010-11-16. Spännande att försöka översätta och lite pinsamt hur mycket av min engelska jag tappat bort när jag inte använt den på ett tag…
This coming sunday is the sunday before advent, and that sunday has had ”judgement” as it’s theme since 1686. Back then, in the 17th century, the suggested text for this sunday was the 25th chapter of the gospel of matthew, and being a bit picky i choose this older text over the one being suggested this year, since i think it fits better, Verses 31 to 46 in particular.
‘The Son of Man will be great and will come with all his holy angels. Then he will sit on his throne like a king. All the nations will be gathered in front of him. He will put them in two groups like a man who takes care of sheep. He puts the sheep on one side of him and he puts the goats on the other side of him. The Son of Man will put people who are like the sheep at his right side. He will put people who are like the goats at his left side.
Then the King will say to those who are at his right side, ”Come! My Father has blessed you. The kingdom was made ready for you when the world was first made. Come into it now. I was hungry. You gave me food. I was thirsty. You gave me a drink. I was a stranger. You took me in. I needed clothes. You gave me clothes. I was sick. You came to visit me. I was in prison. You came to see me.” ‘Then the good people will ask him, ”Lord when did we see you hungry and give you food? When did we see you thirsty and give you a drink? When did we see you a stranger and take you in? When did we see you needing clothes and give you clothes? When did we see you sick or in prison and come to see you?” ‘The King will answer them, ”I tell you the truth. What you did for even the smallest of these people you did for me. They are my brothers.”
‘Then he will say to those at the left side ”Go away from me. You are cursed. Go into the fire that burns for ever. That fire has been made ready for the devil and his angels. I was hungry. You did not give me food. I was thirsty. You did not give me a drink. I was a stranger. You did not take me in. I needed clothes. You did not give me any clothes. I was sick and in prison. You did not come to see me.” ‘Then they will also ask, ”Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or needing clothes, or sick, or in prison, and did not help you?” ‘Then the King will answer them, ”I tell you the truth. What you did not do for even the smallest of these, you did not do for me.” And they will go away to be punished for ever. But the good people will go away to live for ever.’
These are powerful words and similar words have challenged mankind throughout history. Perhaps the words of Christ are particularly challenging since they are aimed at a form of idolatry and that this idolatry has become so convenient to us humans that we no longer consider it idolatry. Almost certainly someone here today will become upset at me for calling it idaolatry, that is how familiar it has become.
To observe how this form of idolatry has been a part of the lives of the believers, and all mankind, throughout history, we turn to the old testament. The idol most associated with the fall and idolatry of Israel is Baal, but what is it to worship Baal?
According to one of my old books, Baal means “owner” and is a deity of growth, so from that we understand that worshipping Baal is nothing more than to worship ownership and growth…
In the new testament the same idol comes back and tries to lead the humans astray and Jesus warns us about this idol, but he doesn’t call it Baal, but Mammon. I checked the same book in which I had found the information on Baal, and found that Mammon means “riches” or “worldly possessions” to which mankind sets its faith and strays from God.
And if we look outside of the bible for a short moment and reads what Luther writes when he explains idolatry. In his catechism he warns us about idols, but he claims that the most dangerous idol is no religious system or belief, it is money!
Throughout history this idol has had many different names; Baal, Mammon, Money, but today we call our idol, and it’s the same idol as always before, “The Market”
The market, the god of the market, is the Baal or Mammon of our time and he has got more power today than he has had in a long time!
It is the god of the market that leads us to turn away from those that Jesus calls “the smallest of these people” and “my brothers”. It is the god of the market that turns us away from those in need and in towards ourselves.
The rules of the market dictates that a sound person is lead by the maximum amount of self-fulfilment and somehow that is supposed to lead to a better society.
Adam Smith wrote, towards the end of the 18th century, about how the market economy was to function, and his ideas dictates the market to this day. He meant that if everyone just saw to his own needs and put themselves first, that would benefit the whole of society.
For almost 250 years now we have witnessed that what he wrote is not true, but we continue to repeat it in the belief that the god of the market will turn this lie into truth.
From this we can understand that Mammon, the god of the market, encourages us not only to put ourselves and our own needs first when it comes to economy, but in every aspect of our lives. Every decision we make should be made with our own best closest at heart.
We are expected to calculate in that fashion even when it comes to seeing our neighbour, those that Jesus calls his brothers. The god of the market can say, and says to us to help others, but the incentive should always be to benefit from our actions ourselves, and if our goal is to bebefin ourselves, our actions, however good they may be, will always be selfish.
If it would cost us more in any way to help others than we benefit from it, we commit one of the worst sins the god of the market knows, that is to be “irrational”
In our world today there are so many of those that Jesus calls his brothers, the downtrodden, poor, sick, imprisoned, hungry and thirsty, that if one were to listen to the god of the market and only give enough to benefit ourselves, it would not be enough.
And since it would not be enough, we as christians cannot allow ourselves to be bound by the rules of the market that dictates self-fulfilment over everything else, but need to look for other goals. We need to listen to Jesus that puts humans before profit. Jesus that gives each human a worth in herself and does not judge a person from the potential profit she represent.
Jesus who unselfishly shows us how to act with the good of others in mind, not the good of ourselves.
Unless we choose to listen to Mammon and closes our eyes, we will meet and see all of Jesus brothers and our calling is to help them, without exeptions, and the 17th century text for this sunday warns us in a big way about what we risk if we choose to follow the god of the market, Baal or Mammon, and turn away from our neighbours.
If we believe that we can help our neighbours by putting ourselves first, then we need to listen to what Jesus has to say to us in this text. It is our responsibility, both at individuals and as a society, and we can not and must not leave that responsibility to the false idol of the market.
You and me have the responsibility and vocation to love our neighbour as we love ourselves, not to love ourselves above all else, so let’s rise to the occasion and leave this room, walk into the world and serve the Lord in joy!