There is nothing new under the sun”
I was sent a humourous Birthday card, depicting Jesus holding his mobile phone; his thought bubble reads: “Twelve followers so far. Sweet!”. As a Catholic, one often thinks of historical parallels and what insights into the Human Condition can be gleaned from old stories – looking for parables? It is Holy Week this week, a rapid 7 days in which Christ goes from the celebrity status of Palm Sunday, through to the Last Supper, Agony in the Garden in which he pleads for this chalice to pass his lips, betrayal by Judas, arraigned before the religious courts, and then delivered to the Romans for their judgement.
When Pilate can find no guilt, the crowds are influenced by temple agents to demand his crucifixion. Christ is duly tormented, humiliated and put to very public and agonising death on the cross, but with his last words, he pleads for his tormentors: “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do”. Meanwhile his followers go into hiding, terrified that they will be next.
But what has this story got to do with us now? Although the cartoon depiction of Jesus doesn’t look much like Julian Assange, it provoked a thought exercise: imagine being witness to those events 2,000 years ago in Jerusalem. There is something biblical about fleeing into exile for 7 years. One overarching parallel is the dominance of the Roman Empire akin to that of the American influence and the craven subjugation of the British Establishment – and other territories under Roman/American Rule. Many supporters of Assange have already labelled Lenin Moreno as Judas having sold his soul for 30 pieces of silver. (Note to Moreno: it didn’t end well for Judas).
Imagine how the tabloids and MSM would treat Jesus today: “He mixes with lepers and is probably leprous himself”; “What about that long-haired Mary Magdalene who seems overly attentive to his needs?” “His hair looks like he just spent 40 days in the wilderness”. Meanwhile, the alternative media has become the voice in the wilderness, unsettling Herod’s peace of mind.
So the question for me is why did the Jewish authorities influence Roman power (and subvert the democratic vote put by Pilate) to do their dirty work? Why was Jesus, King of the Jews such a threat to the status quo? Was it his antipathy to market place materialism and seeking a kinder world (as expressed in The Beatitudes)? One might ask the same questions behind the persecution of Julian Assange, who is hated for having exposed the war crimes and lies of the ruling classes.
For those who can only see a smelly unkempt rapist, perhaps we might recall that there used to be a commandment not to kill, just as there was one about coveting one’s neighbour’s wife. From my perspective, the killing of innocents seems the greater crime. Jesus (allegedly) issued a caveat against judging sexual offending: “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone”.
Finally, let us return to Christ’s followers who were hiding in mortal terror. They were eventually empowered with the “Gift of Tongues” which allowed them to be understood by every nation. Somewhere in there is a metaphor for the alternative media, but like the dyslexic agnostic, I lack the gift of tongues to complete the metaphor. Whether one is religious or atheist, If we should ever lose hope, then evil will indeed triumph.