First of all, it is important to state emphatically that there are no grounds to the rumor that Jesus is a registered Republican. He himself was asked (Matthew 21, 15-23) if he were voting with the Jewish Nationalists or the Herodian (accommodation with Rome) party. (“Should we be paying taxes to Caesar?”) His answer, seemingly evasive, made clear that his teaching was not concerned with man’s political arrangements, but with the salvation of his soul.
In his recent book “Jesus of Nazareth” Pope Benedict XVI makes the following observation: “While the Torah presents a very definite social order, giving the people a juridical and social framework for war and peace, for just politics and for daily life, there is nothing like that to be found in Jesus’ teaching. Discipleship of Jesus offers no politically concrete program for structuring society.” (p.114)
Benedict expands on this point later in the book: “Concrete juridical and social forms and political arrangements are no longer treated as a sacred law that is fixed ‘ad litteram’ for all times and so for all peoples … The concrete political and social order is released from the directly sacred realm, from theocratic legislation, and is transferred to the freedom of man, whom Jesus has established in God’s will and taught thereby to see the right and the good.” (p.118)
On another occasion (Luke 12, 13-22) someone asked Jesus to adjudicate an inheritance dispute. “Man,” he replied, “who made me judge or arbitrator over you?” That’s not my mission. He then proceeded to give a warning about the moral issue at stake. In that instance it was covetousness. In another setting — under today’s circumstances — Jesus might speak of peace or poverty or the sacred duty to protect human life. But he would not offer a concrete political program.