Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Palm Sunday, 2010

We all often wonder, what would Jesus say if he saw our modern world? Would he be pleased or would he be appalled. Would he think we’d made progress or that it was the same old, same old.

If Jesus entered say, New York City, instead of Jerusalem, was given a ticker tape parade up Broadway, with confetti instead of palm fronds, what would he think of what he saw?

It’s doubtful this one-time carpenter would be very impressed with our steel towers, our cars, or our computers. He’d probably ask to be taken to the poorest section of town.

Although he would find comparatively poor people, he’d also find that they were not starving. Fat, even. He’d listen to their complaints of poverty, of social injustice, and inequality. He’d be told of the suburban McMansions with their wide, paved streets.

Proudly, the Socialists would boast of the great strides they’ve made in resolving these inequities. But Jesus would also see criminal gangs, prostitutes, and drug dealers. He’d see fatherless families and x-rated movie theaters.

“Did you pray to God for the blessings you have?” he might ask.

Some would answer they had. God had helped them in their mission to rewrite justice, to tax the wealthy, and redistribute their wealth. They would make no secret of their hatred for the wealthier classes, and their satisfaction in wreaking vengeance upon them.

And then, he might ask, “And how have you repaid God’s bounty? You are fed, clothed, and housed at His will, you tell me. You have changed your society, for the better. But how have you altered? How have you thanked God?”

Then he might ask to be taken to the suburbs. He might then feast with them. He would ask his host if he had contributed to the needs of the poor. The host would say he had made charitable donations.

But the host would also complain about being taxed to support able-bodied citizens.

“Is not charity an act of free will, Lord, not compulsion?”

We hope he would say that the poor should ask of God, not men, and let God move other men’s hearts to goodness. As we ask the question here, we cannot speak for Jesus’ answer. He would probably have some harsh words for us, as well.

Like, "If you're so worried about property taxes, why do you live in such large houses?"

He did say this, though, when preaching in Jerusalem during the Passover.

After he had entered Jerusalem, palm fronds thrown in his path in great welcome, Jesus began teaching in the temple every day.

One of the stories he told was the Parable of the Tenants. A rich vineyard owner rented his vineyard out to some local farmers. When he sent servants to collect some of the fruits for his table, the local farmers killed them.

Then he sent his son. He figured they’d show some respect for him. But, ‘This is the heir,’ the farmers said. ‘If we kill him, the inheritance will be ours.’ And so they did.

Jesus told the people that the owner would come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others. His listeners were horrified. Jesus, in response, quoted from Isaiah: “The stone that the builders have rejected has become the capstone.”

He said all who fell on that stone would be broken to pieces, but those on whom it fell would be crushed. Jesus was speaking of the Sadducees, the givers of law of the Temple, who were cheating their people and who were suspicious of Jesus.

Jesus not only correct assessed the political situation in Jerusalem, but prophesied his own death. What parables he would tell today is anyone’s guess. The time for storytelling, indeed, may be over.

This parable still holds lessons for us today, both in the rejection of the capitalist marketplace, and the government’s usurpation of its place, and in the place Christianity holds today in our society’s estimation.

Like a domestic commodity that threatens imports in the market today, for which traders can command a cheaper price through cheaper, foreign labor, our government is inexorably outlawing Christianity. It would regulate its fields and sell them to others.

Socialism is effectively destroying the material marketplace in order to have better control of it. Socialists tout worthy philosophies, but reject the philosopher who taught them. He promised one day there would be a reckoning.

He did promise all sorts of calamities, man-made and natural.

“Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines, and pestilence… and fearful events and signs from heaven.

“There will be signs in the sun, moon, and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea.”

Jesus said all this would come later. But first, his followers would be persecuted, thrown in prison, and even executed. “And all on account of my name. Watch out that you are not deceived, for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he!’ and ‘The Time is Near!’

“Do not follow them. When you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened. These things must happen first. But the end will not come right away.”

He tells them not to worry about what they must say to defend themselves, although he says all nations will turn against them and imprison them.

“For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. All men will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your heads will perish.

“By standing firm, you will save yourselves.”


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home