In a neat irony on this, Trump Day, the gospel reading for the Eucharist (Mark 3, 13-19 – Jesus’ Appoints the Twelve) provides a real opportunity to undertake one of those classic ‘Compare and Contrast’ exercises.
Trump’s cabinet to be is stacked full of the rich, powerful and, already successful.
Jesus’ inner circle, or his cabinet, is, by comparison, something of a mixed bag.
Yes, Jesus’s cabinet contains a man motivated by his own desire to succeed at all costs and, who is prepared to sell his soul and, yes, Jesus’ cabinet tend to get ahead of themselves and get things wrong, but consider their lasting effect on the world and, you would have to conclude that ultimately they stuck to their knitting, put others first and, were agents of real and lasting change.
It seems that real power and authority can be unleashed in and through the ordinary folk and in this we should take huge comfort, but without allowing ourselves to be too comfortable.
Comforted but not comfortable is our Christian paradox; the paradox we must inhabit if we are to both live out and proclaim the gospel. It is the paradox that the apostles (with the exception of Judas) came to accept as reality. It is the paradox of true belief.
Living the paradox implies guarding against lapsing into passivity or some form of Christian stoicism, allowing ourselves to weakly or even just weekly proclaim that all we be all right in the end.
As Christians living in the here and now real material change in the here and now must always be a concern, ‘thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as in heaven,’ is after all a stanza from our core prayer.
We should also take the ‘leadership log’ out of our own eye both as individuals and in the church asking ourselves whether we would commission and appoint the likes of the apostles to positions of ‘leadership.’
Are we prepared to risk the Judas in our midst so long as we also find the Peter’s, James’, John’s and Andrew’s as well as the Mary’s?
Perhaps we need to do so if we are serious about the paradox of the apostolic tradition, inheritance and, deposit?
Ordinary people, with ordinary names, driven by a desire to live out the greatest of all stories; these, it seems, according to our Christian story turn out to be the real game changers. It is all part of the paradox.
So maybe the hope articulated in today’s psalm that ‘righteousness and peace will kiss each other,’ (Psalm 85, 1o) is dependent not on the likes of the Donald and his inner circle but on the likes of you and me? It is all, again, part of the paradox.