Is it a “good Friday” with so much hate, anger, and fear in the world? For those spending this weekend in contemplation of what Jesus taught and/or reflecting on how he died for “our” sins, he died for EVERYONE’s sins — a point worth pondering. Jesus may have tossed the money changers out of the temple, but he still forgave them. While dying in agony on the cross, we’re told that he cried out, “Father forgive them. They know not what they do.” He was referring to the Romans (and others) who crucified him. He even wanted salvation for his killers– for all of us.
Yes, I think Bible scholars and theologians would agree, Jesus didn’t die just for “evangelicals”, or for “Christians” only. He was crying out for ALL humans and our limited ability to comprehend the consequences of our actions. We are human and we all make mistakes. Jesus was asking to take on the burden (the Karma) of ALL of us.
Out of respect, I used to avoid posting Buddhist philosophy on Christian holidays. But, with ignorance the cause of so much fear and suffering, I must speak out, especially on these days. Bible prophecy seems right on about our destiny; that we are on the brink of blowing ourselves “to Kingdom come” with so much fear, violence, and bigotry. Millions of Christians will go to “church” this weekend, in other words congregate in a beautiful building, and pat themselves on the back for doing so. It’s wonderful to pray and take time to reflect on Jesus, but will it change hearts or minds? If going to church is just another way to hunker down in a deeper fundamentalist stance of “us against them” then it’s not a good Friday. It’s a very sad Friday. I say this as someone raised in a Pentecostal church that was extremely intolerant, even of other Christians — especially Catholics.
For years I thought maybe that particular Midwest church was an anomaly, an exception, and that other Christians did “walk the talk.” Sadly, over the years intolerance has been on the rise– or maybe it’s always been there lurking in the shadows. Now, with mega mouths like Trump refuting civility, people are openly expressing their hatred and distrust of “other” (anyone who looks different, disagrees with their views, or doesn’t go to their church.) Christians are setting fires to mosques and even Buddhist temples. What’s the line about hypocrites and getting rid of the log in your own eye? (Matthew 7:5) I know, it pertains to me as well.
Easter should be an awakening, a true resurrection of Spirit; a time of fellowship and good will toward our “fellow-man.” That language doesn’t translate as being nice only to those in your congregation or only males. It means being compassionate to everyone. I believe that includes not only women, children and people of all faiths, but how we treat the “least amongst us” — the helpless, and also animals, fish, birds and bugs, who are often senselessly tortured.
Jesus died for our sins, took on that tremendous burden because we are human, fallible and often unaware. Most of you have probably deleted this link, and couldn’t care less what a Buddhist has to say. In case you’re still reading, I’ll end with something I found on a Christian ministry website:
“The struggle to forgive can ultimately make us stronger because it humbles us, causes us to realize our need of the Lord, destroys our pride, helps us to see our own sin more clearly, and causes us to rely on our brothers and sisters in the Lord for help.
Give God time to work in your heart. If the opportunity arises to talk to that person, go ahead. If not, lay it at the foot of the cross. And keep letting go of bitterness.”
Above quote from Dr. Ray Pritchard, of “Keeping Believing” prison ministries. This and other posts by ZenWoman, aka author of Seeing Clearlyej Morgan.
I started this post two weeks ago before violence erupted at the Trump political “stage shows.” The events of March 11/12 prove my point. Actions have consequences.
In Buddhism we call it Karma. Jesus taught that you will reap what you sow. Either way the message is the same: actions have consequences. It’s not just a moralistic matter, it’s a principle of nature: cause and effect. We’re seeing this play out with the 2016 U.S. presidential election. I was writing about bullying, name-calling and juvenile antics, but we are already seeing those actions and consequences escalate. When the leading Republican candidate tells his angry crowd, “go ahead and knock the crap out of them… (referring to protesters) I’ll pay your legal fees”, not too surprising when someone sucker punched a protester. AND, it doesn’t take much imagination to envision how the protesters might react; just as they did by organizing and showing up at the Chicago event with even more opposition. Of course, the tension escalates and BOOM, violence breaks out. One action leads to another… aka Consequences.
I was originally writing about the embarrassing spectacle and likely consequences, but now we have concrete examples of cause and effect. Punching isn’t the end, it’s the beginning of resentment and a high probability for more violence. When Trump tells his followers that he can’t understand why “Muslims hate us”, that tells me he isn’t aware of cause and effect. For years, going back to the 1950s, we meddled in Middle Eastern affairs, tossing out a dictator or two, to assure access to oil. We became the enemy because the USA was a big bully. But, if he can’t see it in the mirror, or the microcosm (his own events), doubtful he can anticipate the larger macro world consequences. Shouldn’t our Presidential candidates have the vision to SEE cause and effect on a personal, national and world basis? Seems obvious to me.
If we foul our drinking water, we get poisoned. When we pollute the oceans with a world of waste and hazardous chemicals, sea life dies and eventually so will the oceans. When the oceans die, so will we. Sadly that process is well underway according to many oceanic experts. Cause and effect is in play with fracking. Doesn’t take a genius to see that if we destabilize the ground with high pressure chemicals and water, the earth will rumble and collapse. Cause and effect is pretty obvious “to anyone with eyes to see”, as Jesus said. He also taught “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” (from Sermon on the Mount, as reported by Matthew and Luke.)
So, if Jesus were here with the “evangelicals” I can’t imagine He would endorse the Trump philosophy of building walls, closing borders and declaring enemies. He would compassionately welcome immigrants the way we once did:
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
(The inscription on the Statue of Liberty, part of a poem by Emma Lazarus, written in 1890.)
What has happened to THAT America? A nation of immigrants, the gracious, charitable America heralded in our songs and anthems? That’s the America I want to see again! A place with good Karma, liberty and justice for ALL.