“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:
PART TWO: The Stranger
Jesus faced a global crisis with the Roman Empire. And a domestic political crisis in his country, which was being run by corrupt rulers in the hand of Caesar and religious elites whose conservative orthodoxy was pushing people away from God instead of bringing them (redeeming them) back to God.
Xenophobia dominated the Temple politics causing Jesus to overturn the tables of the money lenders and freeing the sacrificial animals. His political act disrupted the corrupt economy and it put him at odds with the leaders so much so they would go and kill him.
There are volumes of work dedicated to this political rebellion Jesus led. But to stay on point Jesus also told political parables to rouse up his base. In doing so, he forces us who follow him to take a close look at the Politics of God.
I invite you to contemplate Jesus’ story too by looking through the eyes of the immigrant and foreigner.
His head was kicked open, his eyes swollen shut, his rib cage shattered, and his lungs were slowly filling with blood. The gangbanger who did this to him left him on the side of the road to die. A minister from down the street saw the man lying on the side of the road but went about his way assuming the. man was just another drunk that often littered his street.
As the blood slowly leaked into the stranger’s lungs, his breathing became more difficult. The swelling in his brain was making it difficult for him to speak a language he had worked so hard to learn. When he cried out to the Rabbi walking passed by, he could only speak in his native tongue. The rabbi did not understand the words, but he was familiar with the language. Blinded by centuries of bitter rivalries, he too ignore the stranger without guilt or remorse.
Before he lost consciousness completely, a young woman on the way to work saw the blood pooling around the man. She stopped her car in the middle of the road and ran to his rescue. Fearlessly she lifted the stranger into her arms as her suit absorbed his blood.
She tenderly put this stranger in her backseat of her new car and poured water over his face. “Please don’t die,” she yelled. Even as her eyes were filled with fear, they spoke to him in a universal language of hope and love. They screamed, “You will live. Just breath. Just breath.”
Closing his eyes the man drifted to sleep; holding on her promise.
When he finally awoke, days had passed. The medical teams and hospital staff had worked around the clock to keep this strange man alive. Sound asleep in a chair next to his bedside was the young woman with her bloodstained jacket over her like a blanket.
How does that story make you feel?
Would your feelings be any different if you learned the man awoke handcuffed to his hospital bed for a crime he had committed as a young man?
I suspect Jesus would say no. He makes this very clear when he speaks of our final judgment as individuals in Mathew 25:31-46, "Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me." Here in this passage Jesus separates the sheep from the goats for judgement. It could be the same as the snake and the stranger or Red or Blue.
As Lent comes to it's final days, we have spent a good deal of time looking deep within ourselves, to find our oneness with God and with those around us. These last couple of days have also made us look at ourselves as we face the political and religious dilemmas that confront us. We have to decide if we are going to stand as lambs with Christ or we go the way of the goats with Caesar.
Today is a good day to look at yourself intimately - to see yourself as God does. And work on the ways you understand and show God’s love to the criminal, the immigrant, the ones who ignore you and the ones who watch out for you. We are all one people, God’s children. There is no politic, then, but God’s that matters in the end.
You can be the woman. Or the snake. The choice is up to you. Choose wisely.
PRAYER: LORD GOD, open my eyes so that I might see you in my life today; you in my neighbor, my boss, the car in front of me, or the person behind me in the grocery store. Open my heart that I might receive them as you have received me, with the love and grace given to me through Jesus Christ, Amen.