Sunday, 8 March 2015

JESUS THE SUBVERSIVE

"THE MEMORY OF JESUS IS BOTH SACRED AND SUBVERSIVE"


Homily - Larne - Sunday 8th March 2015

One of the greatest human heroes of recent times in Nelson Mandela - the South African political icon.

In the latter part of his life he was a statesman and the president of his country. He was awarded snumerous peace prizes and university honorary doctorates. He was the sought after guest of the world's royal families, presidents and prime ministers.  



His grave in South Africa today is - and always will be - a place of international pilgrimage. 

But the earlier and greater part of Nelson Mandela's life was absolutely different. He was the leader of a guerilla army trying to overthrow the ruthless and unjust South African white establishment. He was branded a criminal, a murderer, a terrorist and an enemy of the state. That state imprisoned him for nearly 30 years. 

In Mandela's case at least the saying: "Todays terrorists are tomorrow's statesmen" was absolutely true. 

Public opinion is so fickle. One day they raise you up. The next day they have you on the ground and are trampling all over you.



As Jesus Christ said: "A prophet is never accepted in his own country or among his own people".

Jesus Christ, in his own time suffered a similar fate to Mandela. On the first Palm Sunday the masses in Jerusalem cheered him, lay palm branches and clothing under his feet. They wanted to take him by force and make him King of Israel.



Five days later the very same crowd - this time with a frenzied blood thirst - were screaming for his crucifixion. Sunday's King had become Friday's Brigand.



This quote we have before us today: "The memory of Jesus is both SACRED and SUBVERSIVE" is absolutely true.

Jesus Christ was on the one hand a sacred figure - calling men and women into a real relationship with God - asking them to be "good", "moral", "just" and "holy". He said: "Be as perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect".

He is SACRED because he was and is God - Son of God - Saviour.

But the other side of the JESUS COIN is that he was truly a SUBVERSIVE. The dictionary tells us that:

"The subversive is someone who challenges, undermines and seeks to overthrow the establishment".

Jesus sought to overthrow the RELIGIOUS ESTABLISHMENT of his day - the Pharisees and the Chief Priests.



He told them that they were: "A brood of vipers".

He told them that they were like graves - beautiful and white on the outside but inside full of corruption and rottenness.

He called them hypocrites.

He went into the Temple with a whip and beat them out of it - leaving red welts on arms and legs.



Jesus also challenged the POLITICAL ESTABLISHMENT of his day. He called King Herod a "fox".



He totally undermined the power of the Roman Governor Pilate.

And making actions speaking louder than words he hung about with and ate his meals with prostitutes, tax collectors, public sinners strangers and smelly fishermen.  

Jesus was a SUBVERSIVE - a TROUBLE MAKER - a DISTURBER and a RABBLE ROUSER.

But just like Nelson Mandela has been socially CLEANSED by modern day society - there has been a massive and partly successful attempt to CLEANSE Jesus Christ by churches, christians and other "respectable" forces and people.

They have taken the REAL JESUS and tried to make him into:

- The Jesus of the gaudy holy pictures.
- The Jesus of the plaster statues with electric bulbs burning in front.
- The "sweet" Jesus.
- The plastic Jesus.
- The pointless and powerless Jesus.
- The Holywood / Bollywood Jesus.
- The Disneyland Jesus.
- The chocolate Jesus.
- The Vatican Jesus.
- The Protestant Jesus.
- The "born again" Jesus.
- The American gun owning Jesus.
- The Salt Lake City Jesus.
- The Jesus who attends Prayer Breakfasts at the White House.
etc.

But the REAL JESUS still lives and his SUBVERSIVE MEMORY still lives.

And if we call ourselves Christians this Real Jesus is supposed to live and act in me and you.

We too are called to: "COMFORT THE DISTURBED and also to: "DISTURB THE COMFORTABLE".




If the Jesus we know just makes us feel comforted, good, calmed, self satisfied and self-righteous then we are simply worshipping a Jesus of our own making. The Real Jesus calls us to be subversives too - to challenge the RELIGIOUS and POLITICAL establishments of our day. We are called to champion truth and justice and to condemn hypocrisy, smugness, respectability and injustice and wrong doing - wherever we find it.

A poet of Harlem wrote the following verses which I have had to slightly abridge for church:

WHEN THE REVOLUTION COMES

WHEN THE REVOLUTION COMES,
SOME OF US WILL PROBABLY CATCH IT ON TV,
WITH CKICKEN HANGING FROM OUR MOUTHS;
YOU’LL KNOW ITS REVOLUTION,
BECAUSE THERE WON’T BE NO COMMERCIALS.

WHEN THE REVOLUTION COMES,
PREACHER PIMPS ARE GONNA SPLIT THE SCENE,
WITH THE COMMUNION WINE STUCK IN THEIR BACK POCKETS.
JUNKIES WILL QUIT THEIR NODDING AND WAKE UP,
WHEN THE REVOLUTION COMES.

WHEN THE REVOLUTION COMES
TRANSIT COPS WILL BE CRUSHED BY THE TRAINS
AFTER LOSING THEIR GUNS.
WHEN THE REVOLUTION COMES,
I HOPE PEARLY WHITE TEETH WILL FALL OUT OF THE MOUTHS
OF THOSE WHO SPEAK ABOUT REVOLUTION WITHOUT REVERENCE.

THE COST OF REVOLUTION IS 360 DEGREES.
UNDERSTAND THE CYCLE THAT NEVER ENDS.
SPEAK NOT OF REVOLUTION
IF YOU ARE NOT WILLING TO EAT RATS TO SURVIVE.

WHEN THE REVOLUTION COMES
DEATH WILL CRAWL THE WALLS OF THE CHURCHES
THAT ENSLAVED OUR MOTHERS.
JESUS CHRIST WILL CATCH A CAB OUT OF HARLEM.

WHEN THE REVOLUTION COMES
JEWISH MERCHANTS WILL GIVE TO PEOPLE WITH AFRO HAIR STYLE.
AFROS WILL BE TRYING TO STRAIGHTEN THEIR HAIR,
AND STRAIGHTENED HAIR WILL GO AFRO.
WHEN THE REVOLUTION COMES,

BUT UNTIL THEN
PEOPLE WILL PARTY AND BULLSHIT
AND PARTY AND BULSHIT.
AND PARTY AND BULLSHIT.

Today here at church we have a double sided question to ask ourselves:

a. Am I a partaker in the sacred as I comfort the disturbed?
b. Am I a partaker in the subversive as I disturb the comfortable?

Jesus came to start a REVOLUTION.

We are not supposed to be his SLEEPING PARTNERS.

We are called to be his REVOLUTIONARIES!



+Pat Buckley
8.3.2015.

4 comments:

  1. Yes, Pat, we are called to be Jesus' revolutionaries- but revolutionaries in love. This qualification is crucial, because without it the word 'revolutionary' carries a highly charged, secular-rather-than-sacred, political meaning, one that is often associated
    with ruthless (and often indiscriminate) violence.

    Remember the words of Blaise Pascal: man never does evil so completely and cheerfully as when he does it from religious conviction.

    Think of the wars of religion that have convulsed Europe, including the British and
    Irish isles.

    Think, too, of the evils inflicted on people by the tribunals of the Papal Inquistion, not only around Europe, but in the New World.

    All the above horrors were perpetrated by people in the name of religion, not in the
    name of love.

    The 'revolution' we are called to is one of care, compassion (even for enemies), gentleness, respect for others (even for enemies), kindness - the list goes on.

    It is a style of revolution unlike anything man-made in our history. And it ends not in political glory, but on Calvary. But hey! There's a wonderful epilogue: the victory of
    resurrection.

    The only 'qualification' for admission to this revolution is surrender to Jesus' will. That's the hard part, for which of us likes to abandon his own will. But once we start to do this, we begin to know it's not such a bad deal after all. In fact, it soon begins to look a very good one indeed.

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    Replies
    1. Dear Friend,

      Thank you for your comment and the thought you put into it.

      I agree that Jesus' revolution is not one of violence and war - not the "revolution" of Islamic State etc.

      And I totally agree with you about religious extremism and fundamentalism.

      I also believe that Jesus' revolution is one of care, compassion (even for enemies) etc.

      But people can sometimes excuse the call to justice and radical Christian revolution - by claiming that they are being meek, or kind, or respectful etc. This can be a cop out.

      Jesus was full of compassion for sinners and outcasts.

      But he was aggressive and angry - in the good sense - with those who suppressed people for their own ends - particularly the Religious Establishment of his day.

      I often feel that we have come a full circle and the religious and political establishments of our day are the NEW Pharisees????

      Would Jesus not want The Vatican to see its riches and feed the poor?

      Would Jesus attend a Prayer Breakfast in the White House with George Bush while Bush was planning violence and war?

      Would Jesus want bakeries to refuse to bake cakes for gay couples?

      Would Jesus want Cardinal Pell to spend £500,000 every 6 months on personal expenses?

      Would Jesus want Fundamentalist Protestant to call the Bishop of Rome the antiChrist?

      What I am saying is this - We should not shy away from the Revolutionary Jesus as a hidden excuse for our own cowardice or respectability.

      Jesus wants SPIRITUAL FRUITS and not RELIGIOUS NUTS.

      I think the churches have castrated the challenging message of Jesus

      Delete
    2. Well said Bishop Buckley

      Delete
  2. You're absolutely right, Pat: Jesus was angry at injustice. And so should we be. But our response to that injustce must always be driven by love, not by the anger it aroused.

    Anger is useful only insofar as it alerts us to the presence of injustice (of evil); that to me is its proper function. In this way, anger is good, for indifference could never alert us to anything.

    ReplyDelete