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Needed Wisdom from the Far East (Wed Jul 7, 2004 4:33 pm)

"When I ponder Jesus, I see a man of his time and place, unafraid of challenging his peers, indeed, anyone who heard him, to a more mature faith, faith in a nurturing God, not a despot enforcer. Jesus was not put to death because he was a nice guy.

Jesus went around telling even the most illiterate peasants, no one can tell you what is right for you but you. You must do the choosing. He was surely not afraid of allowing people to think for themselves. Indeed he fought ideologically the religious establishment of his day who were in collusion with the political establishment precisely on this point of mind and thought control and other kinds of violence to the human spirit.

Jesus was a master at situating the heart of his Jewish tradition into the daily lives of his people because he had done it in his own life as well. He talked of oil and leaven and lost coins and found sheep and made the tradition live. He was indeed truly human, another thing the establishments of his day would not forgive him for.

Jesus criticized twists that were being put onto the Jewish scriptures which he understood were never intended in their origins. He stood in the tradition of the Rabbi Hillel whose approach to Jewish living and the scriptures on which it was based has been described as "elastic". Jesus did not adopt the literal approach of the Rabbi Shammai which positions were tying people up in knots.

Of this we can be sure, Jesus did nothing to reinforce the status quo of his time. He was constantly among the rank and file of his people working to change their minds and hearts, to give them the true freedom that he believed his Abba wanted for them. Jesus died rather than back down on his belief that God's nature is loving kindness and God's purpose is a just and compassionate world, right here, right now, not "pie in the sky by and by".

The Pulpit and the Pew
Leobard D'Souza
Archbishop Emeritus of Nagpur
St. Charles Seminary, Nagpur, India,
Summer 2004 Issue
For the complete article go to:
The Pulpit and the Pew in Archbishop Leobard's website.

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