Captive to Sin, Healed for Justice | Sojourners

Captive to Sin, Healed for Justice

March reflections on the Revised Common Lectionary, Cycle B.
Graphic of money spilling out of a golden calf piggy bank.
Illustration by Matt Chase

“WE'RE CAPTURED by sin, we’re captive to a power,” said theologian Stanley Hauerwas, “not as something so much that I do as something that I’m captured by and that I don’t even recognize as captivity.”

In this month’s scriptures, we confront the captivity of sin—social forces that diminish life, powers of oppression that colonize our desires. Sin whispers lies about the world, deceptions that lead to harmful acts—harmful for our personal lives with neighbors and our collective lives as a society.

The gospel passages assigned for the first and last Sundays spotlight the sinful power of money—from the marketplace’s corruption of the temple courts to Judas Iscariot’s betrayal of Jesus in exchange for silver. Money bookends Lent. We cannot talk about Jesus without talking about how mammon worms itself into our longings—the allure of wealth, the power of profits.

Jesus enacts liberation from the sinfulness of the thrall of money. In John 2, Jesus frees people from money’s bondage by scattering gold and silver in the streets. He seizes the currency of the bankers. He redistributes the wealth of the few into the pockets of the many. The reign of God will involve an economic overhaul. Lent would be a fitting season to tax the rich and to cancel student and medical debt.

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