Jesonian … December 2nd, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Whenever you’ve done it to the least of these, my brethren, you’ve done it to me.

This seems to be one of those idealistic, philosophical utterances of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount. Most people nod their heads in agreement, while secretly pre-repenting over not doing it.

But it is not a statement.

It’s a puzzle–a riddle.

It’s an intertwining ball of confusion leading us to a universal realization.

First of all, let us understand that Jesus, who walked with equality among Jew, Greek, Roman and Samaritan, did not believe that anyone was “the least.” So him phrasing the word “least” was ironic rather than iconic.

Since he didn’t believe anybody was the least, we are given a bit of misdirection. Jesus was suggesting that we, as humans, are obsessed with subjectively examining those around us, with the goal of finding our level of superiority.

Because we don’t want to hunger and thirst for righteousness, we live off the fat of our own arrogance. In other words, “I am better than you because I say that I’m better than you–and everyone in our clan believes we are better.”

Nowadays we pass this prejudice off as culture, or loving our family, or appreciating our home town. It’s the Red States saying they are more righteous than the Blue States, and the Blue States claiming the Red States are imbeciles.

There are no least.

So Jesus traps us in the maze: “Since you think these people are least, then you need to realize they are me, and the only place you will find me is in them. I will not be available to you in your favored few. You will only be able to discover me in those you deem least.”

So if you think black people look like monkeys, if you want to find Jesus you’d better show up with some bananas–because he will situate himself right in the middle of the black race and evaluate you on how you treat them.

If you think women are weaker vessels and stupid, Jesus will grow a vagina. Yes, Christ will only be accessible to you through the female.

If you think gay people are destroying America, then be prepared to find Jesus as a flaming queen with a thick lisp.

And then, based upon how you handle this information–how genteel and kind you are–your true spirituality will be rewarded.

For Jesus told us that if we love those who love us, we are no better than the heathen. Anybody can do that.

But if we insist there is an inferior race, an abominable people or just folks that are “no damn good,” then we will need to go to the prisons, the hospital wards and the whore houses to really find the Master.

It is a nasty trap.

Perhaps it would just be easier to cease believing that anyone is least–smarter to drop the arrogance that keeps us in ignorance, where God has no tolerance.

The least of these my brethren is not actually a group of people. It is a gathering place for all of our bigotry–where Jesus is waiting for us so that we can find him and be blessed.

As soon as the church starts teaching a progressive message–that no matter how unique our fellow-humans may turn out to be, none of them are least–we will be at the mercy of cozying up to those we deem intolerable.

There are no third world countries.

There are no human abominations.

There are no inferior races.

There are no least.

If you believe there are “least” in the world, be prepared to journey to them to find your Master.

He will be sitting there–right in the middle of the people you hate, waiting for you to repent and find Him.

 

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Palm of the Hand… March 24, 2013

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Breathlessly, the young tyke ran up to me, thrusting a palm branch in my face, screeching, “Come on! Join us!”

I took it from his hands as he quickly ran away and I watched his retreating form, wondering what it was like to be so young, energetic and completely overtaken by joy.

I was curious, which is the best I could do at my age. I had heard a lot about the young Nazarene preacher and even had a cousin who knew a friend who was acquainted with  a fellow who claimed to have been healed of leprosy by the mob-proclaimed miracle worker. My cousin was rather dubious about whether such a transformation had actually occurred, thinking perhaps it was merely one of those remissions common to the disease. Or perhaps a hysteria that had merely been exposed. But still … I was curious.

I was not one to become quickly duped or overtaken by fits of emotion or passing fancies. As I stared at the palm branch in my hand, I was suddenly surrounded by a horde of adoring folk, mostly women and young children, making their way down the road toward the gates of the city.

I decided to follow at a distance, to learn more. For after all, I had enough dissatisfaction in my soul to wander from the common, acceptable procedures, to peruse the thinkings and aspirations beyond the normal scope. I wasn’t normally a participant, but rather, a student. So on this day, I was out on a studious hike, to learn the ways of a crowd in the midst of an exciting journey into the big city.

Yet I was careful. Trooping along with them, I noticed that the religious leaders were standing at a distance, expressing their disapproval, some even scoffing. The Roman soldiers were less offended, but treated it as a lark, or, if you will, a bit of comic farce. It was a bit humorous. Peasants marching along with palm branches instead of swords, following a vagabond minister who was bouncing on a small donkey, unarmed, with a pleasant smile spread across his face. He was innocent, inane and dangerous, all at the same time.

I suddenly discovered myself lagging behind, careful not to appear as if I were part of the reverent masses. I gingerly fingered the palm branch so as to appear to be an observer rather than a worshipper.

I caught a glimpse of the young boy who had given me the present and had encouraged me to join the flock. He motioned for me to move forward and become part of the procession. I smiled at him–so beautifully youthful and idealistic. Yet my feet, which had begun to delay further motion, now completely stalled.

It seems I had decided. Let them parade without me.

I was curious–but just not enticed. And most definitely not prepared for the condemnation that might be awaiting these creatures of adoration when they reached the gates of the city.

Unsettling times–and certainly no season to take undue risk.

I turned on my heel and headed home. I stared down at the palm in my hand. I lifted it to my nose and smelled the pungent fragrance. And then … I let it fall to the ground.

The further I walked away the less I could hear, and the less I heard, the more distant it became in my consciousness. I made a decision.

Not today.

I would salve my curiosity in some other fashion. Maybe listen in on one of the young man’s talks. Maybe question some of his disciples on his stance on issues. Maybe wait for the religious leaders to draw their determinations and glean wisdom from their experience.

Or maybe just wait for the next time. Yes.  The next time.

I was nearly home when I concluded that the next time I saw the Galilean in the street, in the midst of such a jubilant march, I would join in.

I would be bold. I would grab my palm branch and in my own way, celebrate the moment.

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