Thursday, July 3, 2014

Two metaphors

Human language can never really capture the truth of the gospel and so we use metaphor. St. Paul uses a variety of metaphors to try and capture in words what exactly God's grace does. We often turn to his use of adoption when we explain infant baptism which the biological parents bring their child and through baptism he or she becomes the adopted child of God.

Today Paul uses another metaphor which seems all too adapt for the fights we are having.

You are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God,

The keys words are interesting. The world is divided in zenos, paraoikos, and synpolitos.

Zenos - the stranger, not us, completely other. We have the word xenophobia to describe a fear of such people.

paraoikos- are sort of like us,
para- as in paramedic or paralegal.
Oikos- the household.
Sort of family, but not fully.

But Saint Paul tells us we are not either of these things. We are synpolitos ( the same people) with the saints and the family of God.

Imagine if all Christians in the world actually lived as if we believed that. If I actually accepted that the Palestinian Christians in Bethlehem are my family, the Chaldean Christians in Iraq are my family. And bring it even closer to home and it gets even harder. Imagine is if the democrats and republicans who are Christians actually behaved like they were synpolitos.

The oikeios tou theou (the household of God) is not just the members of my church, or the ones who look like me, think like me, have the same passport as me, or the ones I like.

Today it is time to look into our own hearts and ask: Are their people who I think of as not quite us (paraoikos) or worse yet foreigners (zenos)? Am I judging by human standards or God's standard?

Part of being a member of the household of God is recognizing that I have no say over who God lets into the family. Whoever God welcomes in is my brother or sister, period.