“another world is possible” – also a dream of jesus
where Jesus began his movement.
RACHEL We continue our analysis of the political situation in the times of Jesus Christ, and we do so with the help of Jesus Christ himself. Jesus, not a few listeners have called Emisoras Latinas, and they seem extremely concerned, not to say scandalized.
JESUS And why are they scandalized this time, Rachel?
RACHEL Because in the last few interviews you’ve talked about politics, and according to them you should concentrate on the things of God, especially in these days of Holy Week.
JESUS And what are the things of God for them?
RACHEL Well, I imagine they’re referring to prayers, sacraments, worship, … in a word, sacred things.
JESUS I believe that what is most sacred, Rachel, is life itself. God does not cover his eyes when he sees his children hungry. And I couldn’t remain calm either when I saw the outrages they were committing in my country.
RACHEL But that’s getting involved in politics. You must have earned yourself some enemies when you got involved like that.
JESUS Plenty! The powerful people hated me. But the people at the bottom, the women and those who were down-and-out – they understood.
RACHEL Understood what?
JESUS That the Kingdom of God had arrived! That was the reason they kept joining our movement, every day more of them.
RACHEL Let’s get back to your enemies. How is it a man of peace like you had so many enemies?
JESUS Rachel, anyone who struggles for justice will always have enemies. Those who have no enemies are people who aren’t doing anything.
RACHEL But you said love your enemies.
JESUS Yes, I said we should love them, not that we shouldn’t have them.
RACHEL Is that famous saying about loving one’s enemies authentic, or was it also watered down?
JESUS No, that’s what I said. And it did not get watered down.
RACHEL What did you mean when you said that?
JESUS Loving your enemies means not falling into the trap of hatred, not imitating their violence. Anyone who struggles against Leviathan can easily end up resembling that monster.
RACHEL You even recommended turning the other cheek. Isn’t that a sign of weakness, or cowardice?
JESUS Rather it’s a sign of shrewdness. You have to be like the dove, but also like the serpent. There’s a time for everything, for throwing stones and for gathering them. With the merchants in the Temple I did not turn any cheek. I drove them out with lashes.
RACHEL But I insist. How is that you, given the extremely critical situation in your homeland and those revolutionary ideas you had, didn’t opt for armed struggle in the end?
JESUS The Zealots tried to convince me. They wanted to speed up the coming of the Kingdom with arms. … But violence begets violence. Every insurrection of the Zealots ended in a new bloodbath.
RACHEL And history proved you right. That’s exactly what happened a little after your death, in the year 70, when the Zealots rose up in rebellion and the emperor Titus devastated Jerusalem.
JESUS I believed that the Kingdom of God had to come in some other way. As I said, Rachel, the first and most important thing was to open the eyes of the people. In our movement we wanted to unite ourselves together as poor people, to feel our strength, and feel that we were capable.
RACHEL It was a question of organizing? Community organizing?
JESUS Yes, just that community. We wanted to grow from below, like the trees. We wanted to be a people without masters or lords. We wanted a new world, a different world.
RACHEL Did you have in mind a long-term project?
JESUS I was impatient. I wanted God’s Kingdom now…. And it didn’t come.
RACHEL Many people died, just as you did, struggling for something that never came. Do you consider yourself a failure?
JESUS No, Rachel. Those who fell in the struggle for justice will be raised from the dead by God. In the Book of Life are written the names of all of them. And mine as well.
RACHEL From Jerusalem, for Emisoras Latinas, this is Rachel Perez reporting.
ANNOUNCER Another God is Possible. Exclusive interviews with Jesus Christ in his second coming to Earth. A production of María and José Ignacio López Vigil, with the support of the Syd Forum and Christian Aid.
*More information about this polemical topic…*
A project with enemies
It is impossible to work for justice, denounce oppression, and seek equality – all of which are essential to the project of Jesus – without making enemies. Jesus’ project is a project of peace and love, but in practice, if peace is based on justice, the struggle for peace will provoke strong resistance and rejection among those who do not live justly.
History demonstrates the complexity of trying to carry out Jesus’ project, the risks involved, the high prices that must be paid at times to make it a reality. We should take quite seriously a charge that were made against Jesus in the judicial proceedings that preceded his being condemned to death: He stirs up the people, teaching throughout Judea, from Galilee even to this place. That is to say, Jesus made enemies, provoked opposition, created conflicts, and attacked the established order.
Many of Jesus’ attitudes and messages fit well with what we nowadays know as the philosophy of active non-violence. This involves the attempt to confront, without violence but quite seriously, the complex conflicts of our world and our surroundings in order to bring about social transformation. This philosophy rejects the idea of violence as something intrinsic to human nature and builds rather on the human capacity for cooperation. It is earnestly committed to educating people and helping them develop habits of dialogue, negotiation and cooperation.
The non-violent posture is not one of passivity or resignation, but involves a permanent attitude of reflection leading to action. It tries to find alternative ways to rectify the inequalities of power that generate conflict, and it hopes that such a way of proceeding will produce more effective and longer-lasting results.
The philosophy of non-violence allows us to perceive the enemy “differently”. We learn to distinguish between the true person and the character assumed by that person in the conflict. Loving one’s enemy means respecting his dignity, without ceasing to combat his ideas and his actions. Loving one’s enemy means recognizing his rights as a person, but contravening his norms. Loving one’s enemies is not using the same methods he does, but different ones, methods which allow him to stop being an enemy, to change and be transformed.
Non-violent methods include civil disobedience, work stoppages, hunger strikes, boycotts, public demonstrations, marches, organized denunciations, and countless forms of non-collaboration with those who abuse power and are the enemies of justice and equality. One non-violent method is the crafty posture of “turning the other cheek”, while awaiting a more opportune moment to take action. Among the great contemporary figures most identified with non-violent theory and practice are Mahatma Gandhi in India and Martin Luther King in the United States.
The monster Leviathan
Human beings have universally entertained a fear of sea monsters. Even now our great ignorance of the oceanic abysses can help us sympathize with these ancestral fears. In the culture of Jesus’ time, people considered the sea monsters to be powerful and frightful; the most famous of them was Leviathan, a marine serpent that appears in several books of the Bible and later on in many commentaries of the Jewish Talmud. The best description of Leviathan is found in the book of Job (40,25-32 and 41,1-26).
Prophet of another Kingdom, of another World
The Jewish scholar Ellis Rivkin insists that the question, “Who killed Jesus?”, need to be rephrased to ask: “What killed him?” He argues that Jesus was not crucified for his religious beliefs and teachings, but because of the possible political consequences of his teachings. It was not the Jewish people who crucified Jesus, but the Roman people. It was the imperial system, a system that victimized the Jews, victimized the Romans and victimized the Spirit of God. It was a system that victimized all men who had no power, and women even more. Jesus proclaimed the Basileia of God, the Kingdom of God. That same word was the one used to describe the Roman Empire: the Basileia of Roma.
The “Kingdom of God”, which was the constant “watchword” of Jesus, had religious, political, and social content. To say that the Kingdom of God had arrived, to proclaim that the Kingdom of God was near, was one way of saying, “Another world is possible.”