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The least of my brothers

Does anyone notice that people are talking a lot more about Jesus lately? Because religion and politics are such sensitive subjects, it sometimes seems senseless to me to write about it. Being thrown off by someone’s hostility is intimidating. And I really never want to hurt or offend. Today, as I was sitting in confusion about whether to write I asked Jesus myself. His smiling face is on my altar, I have conversations with him all the time.

In addition to my many angel and tarot card decks I use, I also have a Jesus deck. I pulled a card and asked that I be led in my inspiration of what to say.

Twelve years of Catholic school and raised by Catholic parents by no means makes me an expert. I didn’t study theology in college, although I wish with ever fiber of my being that I had. I don’t even call myself a Christian. I have read the New Testament. A lot. The year following my father’s motorcycle accident, the bible was the only book I read.

I have loved and been comforted by his words but there are things in the Bible that just didn’t deliver for me. As I waited for the miracle of my father’s healing from the traumatic brain injury, I would go back to that verse over and over again. Actually, when I got my bible out to write this post, my pencil was still stuck in that page. “Again, I truly tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in Heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name. I am there among them.” Matthew 18:19

After three years, it was clear my father wouldn’t recover. Three years in a wheelchair. He was exhausted, we all were. I prayed for the miracle and believed that if I fasted enough, churched enough, believed enough, that I could move mountains. And I had to do it all without a doubt. It still makes me sad how much that young woman took on the responsibility of her father’s recovery. When he left us, I wasn’t bitter but I had to finally come to terms once and for all that sometimes what seems like a promise doesn’t really work out that way.

So let me get this straight. I need to believe, with no doubt in my heart, so that the miracle can happen, but if it doesn’t happen then it’s God will. WHAT?! I have a brain you know. You cannot have it both ways!

I wonder if most people that have prayed desperately for something not to get it realize that what you do get is often times profound enough to make you rethink everything. I have tried to sit in churches, I’ve listen to the rules, followed the path all the while my intuition screaming that Jesus did not need me to jump through hoops. In fact, he made it very clear what we are to do.

My father volunteered at prisons, offering his humanity in service to those in need. My father was one of the few people that I knew that actually did what Jesus asked. And Lordy, he wasn’t perfect. He had a card in his bible that read, Jesus would have ridden a Harley. My father was wild, kind of a rebel. He helped anyone and everyone and I never heard him talk bad about a single person. He was one of the best humans I knew and he is gone. It was hard to understand, but often times it is the moment when we throw our hands up that we begin to understand that we cannot ever fully understand. It’s the nature of being in earth school.

I have to sit everyday with the reality that I cannot pray my way out of things or force God into making it so I am never uncomfortable. So what was I to take away from this man who died on the cross? Absolute empathy for the human condition. I once tried going to an Episcopalian church thinking it would be less Catholicly. I know, I have issues. But once I start hearing that I am a sinner, my eyes gloss over and I want to cover my son’s ears. What we are, I believe, are spiritual beings in a human bodies. The most important thing that I want my son to learn is tolerance and fair treatment for others. How will he use his heart to serve others?

So I chose my Jesus card, and the message was, “According to your faith, be it unto you.” Matthew 9:29 The passage is about healing. I thought, how appropriate that I am visiting this concept again. In all honestly, the reason why my mother’s death was so brutal was because I knew that there was a certain amount of acceptance that I needed to have in order to lose her. I wasn’t going to have the time that I did with my father. Three years to be ready to let him go. I didn’t want the little time I had with my mother to be spent begging for a miracle. I wanted every moment to be real so I had to settle in with my grief quicker than I did with my father. It was horrible. But it was infinitely honest. I don’t know if I did it the right way. I just knew I didn’t have it in me to negotiate her healing with God.

I continued to read to the end of the passage, “when they saw the crowds He had compassion for them because they were harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd.”

Ah ha. There it is.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that popular phrase and bumper sticker that was everywhere a while back. WWJD. He was a great teacher of the human condition after all. I thought about why it is so difficult to grasp that we should love our neighbor, despite fear, despite difference, despite logic. The man in the maroon van that hit my father as he was waiting to pull his bike into the driveway just wasn’t paying attention. Split second and he changed my life. He took my father’s vitality, his life.

Jesus didn’t tell us that we find justice through control, or safety or believing that as long as we have a good reason to fear and hate, well then it’s okay. He showed us that nearly everything is an opportunity to radically embrace love and justice. He is being talked about again. Everyone likes to focus on him as a God, but not the fact that he was nailed to the cross as an example of human empathy for those that would seek to destroy him. And what did he ask? Love.

I notice as I get older, I am getting more and more defensive and protective over a message that has been largely distorted and manipulated. He didn’t order us to be the morality police. Hell, we can barely get along. He asked us not to judge on the premise of knowing that we are all kind of assholes.

We all come here with our mission. The world is full of fighters. Jesus was a fighter for all manner of injustice. He was a rebel. Following him is hard. But make no mistake, If you are following him as your Savior, I think it is important to be clear. You cannot build a religion on beliefs and practices that he would abhor and that went against everything he taught. Love your neighbor, turn the other cheek, do onto others. Oh and this one, “what ever you did for the least of my brothers.”

Terrorism is frightening. But I also think we can probably agree and this is a hard thing to admit – we live in a world that is not always safe. It’s not always safe emotionally, physically and if you have come this far and haven’t lived with that reality, you are very lucky indeed. It can feel unsafe in so many ways that we grasp on to the idea of the tangible thing we think we can control. Others.

Maybe this really is a call to look at ourselves squarely and bravely and see where we are hiding in fear. It is the endless reassurance that I heard from my father growing up and that I read over and over again in my bible. Be not afraid. Maybe we are awake right now for Christ consciousness to motivate the way we go forward. Like I have found many times through out my life, the peace comes from the seeking. And I know that whatever I fear  or don’t understand pales in comparison to the empathy I have of those suffering and feeling helpless and lost.

What I see happening is a fascinating look into the human spirit. We have our fighters. The brave ones who march and use their voices. There are the peaceful warriors who lend their support through the cosmic mediation to lift the vibration of the planet. Then there are those swept up in fear. And I’ve been there too. Left unchecked the enemy is never who you think. People are hurting, but they also are being called to their purpose on the planet. Sometimes, I feel like I don’t have anymore anger to give. I wish I could talk with my father, I wonder a lot about how he sees things now that he’s been away.

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