His grand conspiracy with Hebrew prophesy was playing out right on schedule. He knew it.
"He took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished. For He shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated and spit on. And they shall scourge Him and put Him to death."
So promised His destiny . . . and His response? "Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chicks under her wings, but you refused . . . and Jesus wept."
A little Matthew . . . a little Luke . . . revealing a great heart spilling over with compassion for the numbing ignorance embraced by a humanity blind to His vision, deaf to His teachings and insulated by false doctrine from the saving Grace of His invitation to spiritual mastery.
While the Holy Pretenders of His time dedicated their days to mind-numbing nit-picking over the intricacies of a religiously correct orthodoxy, He dissected their spiritual impoverishment with a scalpel so keen they hardly felt its nick. His fellow clerics ultimately, saw no options beyond defending their insolvent orthodoxy with the lethal irrationality of religious fanaticism.
Not much has changed. What might Jesus do if He were in human form today bearing witness to the latest episode of prime time reality TV? What might He say to that majority of Christian Americans who have apparently found in their faith a doctrinal loophole that renders it somehow religiously coherent to decimate a bankrupt country of twenty million souls, half of them under fifteen years old, with no navy, no air force, no long range missiles and a suspect army on the grounds that it presents a clear and present danger to the most powerful military force ever assembled on this planet? Indeed, what might Jesus say about assigning messianic virtue to our military foray? Of course, there's nothing novel about that perverse petition for divine intervention.
Consider what George W. Bush's daddy said about the air strikes he ordered against Iraq a few days before leaving office eleven years ago? Would you believe, "The skies are safer and the message is clearer today because of the courage of those young air crews that did the Lord's work yesterday."
Let's hear it for the Lord's work! I can see Him now about His Father's business . . . Top Gun Jesus, throttle wide open blasting His F-16 through the sonic barrier, mach I plus, scanning the electronics array, picking up His target, relentlessly closing in, effortlessly matching every move of his preys frantic attempt to escape. Sensing lock-on, His finger moves to the launch button just as the signal fills the cockpit. He flips the switch and the Sidewinder leaps from its mount, quickly closes on its prey, then disappears in a glorious fireball of the Lord's work.
Top Gun Jesus confirms another kill, joysticks into a tight, climbing turn back to His carrier singing, "Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition" while Tom Cruise revels in the glory days when he spilled fictional blood in Hollywood for the Grand Old Flag.
And so it goes from the tragic to the frivolous to the sublime. Human beings subjected to the many faces of a rationalized indifference masquerading as everything from "regime change" to "globalization" to "privitization" to the "Lord's work." The same kind of perverse justifications that legitimatized the murder of the gentlest soul on the planet 2000 years ago simply because He exposed a less than clear understanding of His Father's Law for the archaic confusion it was . . . and continues to be to this day.
It's time for Him to stop weeping over us, folks. It's time for us to gather on the common ground of His liberating Truth and challenge the role we're being so carefully groomed to play; self-absorbed political androids with nothing finer to do than grease the wheels of a cruel commerce and wave the flag of a deluded patriotism that has long forfeited any claim it had on our loyalty in nobler times.
The signs of the times leave no doubt that it's way past time for all aspiring "born againers" to vacate our religious comfort zones and take on the hard work of aligning so impeccably with His Gospel that the generosity of our forgiveness and compassion will inspire all who come our way to join Jesus in His powerful renunciation of the discredited notion that lethal force is the only effective response to planetary neighbors lost in the self-imposed darkness of an "eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth"
Would He go about sowing discord and dissension, elitism and enmity, hate and hubris? Would He reveal a passion for predominating and a lust for power over the minds of all men and women? I think not. The peace-loving Jesus spirit I know would be animated to teach us one sacred practice . . . love the Creation, have compassion for all beings and kinship with all life. But can we say the same for the motives of the majority of institutions who claim to represent Him, or any of God's other messengers for that matter. I think not.
Though well-meaning, I believe any thoughtful examination of most of the world's religious institutions would reveal that each of them has a tendency to insist that their followers commit to an unyielding advocacy of their particular theological point of view. This demand for orthodoxy, in and of itself, contains the seeds of the mischief mentioned above. Discord, dissension, elitism, enmity, hate and hubris, not to mention evangelical zeal to dominate and control the religious dialogue are inevitable when driven by institutionalized arrogance masquerading as divine revelation.
Joseph Campbell recognized the pitfalls of that syndrome. He insisted that religious institutions are most faithful to their roots when they focus on practices that spiritually inform and support the psychological transformation of their followers rather than obsess over defending their creeds and doctrinal points of view. He once posed this question to an audience at a religious convention . . . "What is your religion telling you? How to be a Jew? How to be a Catholic? How to be a Buddhist? How to be a Baptist? Or, how to be a compassionate, caring human being?" How do you think that would play out there in the religious kingdom?
Considering the state of the planet today and the condition of its humanity, it would be a tough sell for any of the world's major religions to claim their followers were making even modest progress toward authentic spiritual awakening in the spirit of the Golden Rule that is common to all religions. I don't have a clue what the Buddha or Mohammed or Krishna or Lao Tsu might be inclined to say if they were here today commenting on how we've gotten to where we are, but I've got a hunch Jesus might begin where He left off in Matthew 23:24 when, on the occasion of the first Passion Week, He indicted the current leadership of His native religion as "Blind guides and hypocrites straining out gnats and swallowing camels." He never missed an opportunity to fry our egos with the loving gift of direct address. Let us trust this Easter season that He never does.
So here we are, two millennia later, still picking doctrinal fly dung out of ecclesiastical pepper while the world seems to be going, as my Mom used to day, "to hell in a handcart." And, were Jesus here right now, what might He do? Can you see Him taking us back up to the woodshed on the Mount, for the umpteenth time, reminding us that its real tough to worship God (What's Happening Now) while having a simultaneous love affair with Mammon (What Should be Happening Now).
Next He'd probably refresh our memories about the self-imposed suffering inherent in assigning too much significance ("laying up as treasure") any part of the passing show of form and circumstance that makes up our earth world. He'd remind us that forces of change ("moth and rust and thieves") don't rest, therefore, everything that's part of our human experience can be here today and gone tomorrow. The suffering that accompanies not getting or losing what we've "laid up as treasure" is as intense as it is because, as He revealed, "where our treasure is, there our hearts will be also." Simple . . . missing treasure equals a broken heart.
After that, He'd probably sigh, mutter "oy vey," and thank the Father that His flock of Prodigal Children was right on schedule to create a critical mass of awakened humanity large enough to initiate the quantum leap out of the dark into light . . . out of materialism into mastery . . . out of fear into love . . . out of spiritual death into Resurrection!
So, take heart this Easter time. Remember the Prodigals have the power to redeem the work of fools. Anne Lamont gave us our marching papers this way . . ."Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: You don't give up." Margaret Halsey invites us to think about the Grand Resurrection into the Awakened Reality this way . . . "Reality is, above all, a variable, and nobody is qualified to say that he or she knows what it is. As a matter of fact, with a firm enough commitment, you can sometimes create a reality which did not exist before." Did you hear that, Dear Hearts? Let's go for it!!! Resurrection City . . . the New Jerusalem! . . . Right here . . . Right now!
And now, take this invitation to Grace from Mark Morford into your hearts and know that it captures the essence of "Christ in you, your hope of Glory!"
"Stop thinking this is all there is. Realize that for every ongoing war and religious outrage and environmental devastation and bogus Iraqi attack plan, there are a thousand counter-balancing acts of staggering generosity and humanity and art and beauty happening all over the world, right now, on a breathtaking scale, from flower box to cathedral. Resist the temptation to drown in fatalism, to shake your head and sigh and just throw in the karmic towel. Realize that this is the perfect moment to change the energy of the world, to step right up and crank your personal volume off the dial. Right when it all seems hard and bitter and offensive and acrimonious and conflicted and bilious there's your opening. Remember MAGIK! And, finally, believe you are part of a groundswell, a resistance, a seemingly small but actually very very large impending karmic overhaul, a great shift, the beginning of something important and potent and unstoppable!"
Now, take a deep breath and rest easy secure in the knowledge that all things come to pass for those who practice divine patience. Remember, given time even grass becomes milk!