Sunday, November 24, 2013

Citizenship or Residence

No I am not throwing myself into the midst of the hot optical debate. Although I will say that I find it ironic that the people I encounter who are most ready to raise the requirements for others are people like me who did nothing to earn their citizenship; they got just by the providence of being born here.

The readings today remind me though that I lost my US citizenship years ago. On the day of my baptism it was traded in for a green card. As the second reading today tells us

He delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son

St. Paul in his letter to the Philippians puts it more directly when he tell us that our citizenship is in heaven.

I was born a US citizen and in baptism I was reborn as citizen of the Kingdom of God. And no, there is no duel citizenship. In this world we are resident aliens.

The Book of Revelation reminds of the reponse of God if we try to be both.

So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spew you out of my mouth.

As a resident of this world I work here, I pay my taxes, etc. but culturally I should remain a citizen of the Kingdom of God.

Too many of us want it both ways. We all of the rights of being Christian but without the responsibilities. We want to live as if we are citizens here, and only have our heavenly citizenship kick in when we die. Then we want to whip out our heavenly passport (our baptismal certificate) and step through the gates of heaven. And at way too many funerals preachers talk as if that's how it works. The minister stands there an canonizes the deceased.

If you are baptized, you have the only citizenship that matters, and the only culture and heritage that matters, Christian. Sure you can enjoy things about American, or Irish or Italian culture, as long as they are consonant with being Christian. But never forget that we are not even permanent residents here. We are pilgrims. We are just passing through. And we shouldn't pick up too much stuff because we don't get to take any of it when we go home.