Like John Paul II before him, Benedict XVI sees the state, and especially the modern one, as perhaps the greatest threat to the Faith and its members. The 20th century is perhaps the greatest single illustration of this. The threat is not new. The state has an excellent penchant for setting itself up as a sort of savior of mankind on earth. Here are a couple of interesting examples from Benedict’s new book Jesus of Nazareth:
…we have already anticipated the seventh Beatitude: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for shall be called sons of God.” A Few observations on the main points of this fundamentally important saying of Jesus may therefore suffice. First of all, we glimpse the events of secular history in the background. In his infancy narrative, Luke had already suggested the constrast between this child and the all-powerful Emperor Augustus, who was renowned as the “savior of the universal human race” and as the great peacemaker. Caesar had already claimed the title “bringer of world peace.”
Caesar never brought peace, of course, but he did also claim the title “Son of God.”
“The term [evangelion] has recently been translated as “good news.” That sounds attractive, but it falls far short of the order of magnitude of what is actually meant by the word evangelion. This term figures in the vocabulary of the Roman emperors who understood themselves as lords, saviors, and redeemers of the world. The messages issued by the emperor were called in Latin evangelion regardless of whether or not their content was particularly cheerful or pleasant. The idea was that what comes form the emperor is a saving message, that it is not just a piece of news, but a change of the world for the better.”
Who can really say that anything has changed?
The people themselves have always been amenable to this deification of political power. Benedict goes on to talk about the impulse to create a worldly god, who -we mistakenly think- can create a worldly paradise for us.
This is why the crowd chose the revolutionary Barabbas over the seemingly powerless Christ.11:12 pm on June 30, 2007 Email Ryan McMaken