Follower of Jesus (12)
Feb 12, 2017
Follower of Jesus (12)
Responding to a Humanitarian Crises (3)
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they shall be satisfied.”
Sermon on the mount, Matt. 5
I am writing this shortly after having heard the sermon on the mount at church. This ‘sermon’ from Jesus, most likely a summary of the teachings of Jesus from many occasions, has formed a syntheses of how a person who claims to be a follower of Jesus acts in life. This particular statement fits well of how a person’s broader action in life should correspond to a person who understands the profound message of Jesus: we are each one a harbinger of the kingdom of God that lies within, and if we are to act in a manner befitting a person who bears that kingdom, we are to act in a manner that understands that as a living embodiment of the Face of God, we must love as God: to love all, and to bring that love of God alive in our world where so many see only pain and devastation.
Jesus expressed his thoughts clearly on what is expected of a follower of Jesus to act: to be a person who “hungers and thirsts for righteousness (justice)”. Righteousness in this context is translated as justice, and indeed, Jesus himself called almost constantly for his followers to correct the evils of the day: those that marginalized the poor and the shunned. We have our own marginalized: the poor and neglected, not only in our own country, but throughout the world, and the shunned, yes, the shunned, the millions of refugees stemming from the wars in our poor world. Pope Francis has claimed, rightly, that the refugee situation is a humanitarian crises, unmatched by anything in recent memory.
We had been struggling to face these evils in our world, but we have now turned to refusing to help in eradicating these evils, in any form whatsoever in the recent decrees of our new President. To make matters worse, our nation is now in the process of vilifying a religion, officially ignoring the evil of racism and white nationalism, and other crimes that are occurring in increasing numbers.
Yes, these are evils that we support as a nation, even resulting in the handcuffing of a five-year-old at one of our airports. I shudder at the implications at the deadening of the soul of our nation if we accept these evils as normal.
Jesus was willing to die to show us that these evils must be resisted. His teachings on justice, summarized in the one line from the sermon on the mount, was one of the principle causes of the chief priests move against Jesus. They were nervous that the Romans would react to these teachings of justice and cause hardship for themselves in the future. (Remember, 80% of the population of the roman empire were slaves.) But Jesus showed us that God is calling for visionaries, and to be a follower of Jesus we must act as Jesus did and proclaim the false teachings of the day.
Did Jesus preach violence or hatred? Far from that attitude, Jesus taught love and forgiveness. We must approach the potential humanitarian devastation from Trump and cabinet with the knowledge that God loves Trump as much as God loves you and I.
God is love, and all in the cosmos stems from the love of God in some form. Love has a very wide range, from the all-encompassing love of God that we yearn to immerse ourselves (if we realize it or not), all the way to the negative end-point of love, fear. It is clear that Trump and his cabinet are in the lower levels of spiritual growth, where fear and self-safety is the primary force. Almost all that they do stems from fear, and stoking the fear of his followers is how they stoke the fires of hatred. Fear is what he played to in the campaign, and stoking that fear is what his first weeks in office has centered on.
Our response should be based on the recognition of that lowest level of spiritual growth of the present regime. That is the same level that much of humanity still is, where personal fear of safety is paramount, no matter what the truth is in plain sight. Since that is the case, we should approach Trump and those who tremble in fear of all potential possibilities with the love of Jesus, an invite in non-violent ways to move forward in the love of God.
I am not saying that we do nothing. Indeed, just like Jesus was not afraid to use a whip to drive out money changers from the temple, we must resist all anti-humanitarian acts boldly and clearly, but non-violently. Like those that protested the racial discrimination back in the ‘60s, since Trump has ordered the federal crime groups that he can control to not look into any discriminatory actions against non-whites, those of us who consider themselves followers of Jesus must speak up both verbally and physically when the opportunity arises.
We can expect church burnings, even more killings by neo-Nazis, verbal and physical abuse by those who now feel empowered to voice their fears (hatred, which is always based on fears). If we are to be faithful followers of Jesus, I trust you and I will respond accordingly when the opportunity arises.
Share your bread with the hungry,
Shelter the oppressed and the homeless;
Clothe the naked when you see them
And do not turn your back on your own.
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn
——-if you remove from your midst oppression,
False accusation and malicious speech;
If you bestow your bread on the hungry
And satisfy the afflicted,
Then light shall rise for you from the darkness
And the gloom shall become for you like midday.
IS 58, 7-10
May the joy of God fill your hearts and the love of God shine on the mountain top.
I will continue to look at the sermon on the mount in more detail, to see what this summation of the teachings of Jesus is speaking to us in this time and place.
Oh Holy Wisdom, I bow before you in gratitude for this opportunity to grow and to become one with your purpose in this universe of yours. You have given me this chance to grow through the pain that is being born witness in our world. May I respond in a manner that brings me closer to who you created me to become. It is only through pain and suffering that I can let go of my burdens of the ego; you are calling me to be your presence in our world. I must become that witness to your love and mercy, by being that instrument through love and mercy flows in our world. Thank you for this breathtaking chance to become like that one who you love, not just inwardly but outwardly so that I can become that sun in the sky that warms our world in your love.
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