Friday, February 22, 2013
The Feminine Response of Jesus
At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, ‘Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.’ He said to them, ‘Go and tell that fox for me, “Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed away from Jerusalem.” Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.”
The only guide we have is this nonauthoritarian, powerless Christ who has nothing but love, who exerts no power, has no armies to call on, shoots no one down…who has nothing with which to save us but his love.
Jesus was a wanted man. The Pharisees wanted him to "get lost" or even better to die because he threatened the power and control they had over 1st century Palestinian society. The Pharisees were part of the rule-making professional religionist elite, ultimately determining who was "clean and "unclean." Meanwhile, Jesus was a rule-breaker for justice, pouring out dignity and compassion on the diseased, disabled, blue-collar workers, women, foreigners and the financially destitute.
Consider viewing Jesus through the lens of Martin Luther King and his nonviolent civil rights resisters who staged sit-ins, protests and rallies to expose the horrifying injustice, hatred and/or indifference of 20th century American Pharisees. Martin was wiretapped by the FBI and eventually gunned down in Memphis through a US government conspiracy. Jesus was betrayed with a kiss, arrested without habeas corpus and tortured on a Roman cross.
When it came to responding to the vicious tactics of the elites, both King and Jesus embraced a lifestyle the scandalously trumped the conventional masculine wisdom in their respective contexts. While King's colleagues demanded violence to deal with the white devil, Jesus' disciples asked (begged?) Jesus if they should call down fire from heaven to consume their opponents, the dreaded Samaritans. Surely, King and Jesus endured name-calling ("Quit being such a queer and kick some ass!"..."What are you a girl? Fight back!"). Yet, these prophets had wisdom on their sides: King's closest advisor was, after all, openly gay, and Jesus' financial supporters were wealthy women. Truly, the roots of corruption and oppression will only be exposed and confronted with a creative blend of nurturing and compassion, using our bodies for embrace instead of revenge.
In response to Pharisaic fear-mongering, Jesus portrays himself as a mother hen with her brood of children, protecting them from the militaries and markets that oppress, exploit and mislead them. Jesus, after all, is just revealing God's feminine side that Isaiah exposed centuries earlier:
As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.
And, like the prophet Isaiah, Jesus came to invite God's children to embrace true religion:
Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
The way of Jesus is diametrically opposed to the overwhelming interpretation of Western-style Christianity from Constantine in the 4th century until yesterday. The masses of "Christians" have packed heat instead of taking the womanly challenge of bearing the cross. We follow Jesus when we commit our days to casting out the demons of violent empire and performing cures upon those ravaged by the exploitation of the American Dream. Love is patient and kind, the only hope of defeating death and numbness of the system, as the Guatemalan poet Julia Esquivel harmonizes:
I live each day to kill death;
I die each day to beget life,
and in this dying unto death,
I die a thousand times and
am reborn another thousand
through that love.