in front of his home crowd, too.
The mood appears to have been generous;
A more modest, “begins to be fulfilled,”
might have been more judicious;
but then, unlike the majority of his followers,
Jesus was never particularly cautious.
In most centuries
he would have been locked up
as a troublemaker, or a communist.
In 21st century Australia,
his middle-eastern appearance,
along with his gang of similarly disreputable types,
would have generated
a substantial ASIO file by now.
Not to mention his wild talk
of freedom for the oppressed
and good news for the poor;
a call to revolution if ever we heard one.
And then, as if that isn’t enough,
he goes and brings God into it!
Who does he think he is?
The teacher couldn’t leave well enough alone.
The crowd were impressed;
His incendiary manifesto
slipped through, apparently unnoticed.
It’s what happens in every generation;
so many miss the disturbing implications
of such radical and loosely labelled “good news.”
For the poor, – only if the rich
can embrace the liberty of letting go;
for the oppressed, – only if the powerful
decide that they can do without their privileges;
for the captives, – only if the fearful choose
to risk their hearts, take on compassion,
and trust in the healing qualities
of grace and freedom.
And for the blind, – only if the unseeing ones
can be persuaded to open their eyes
to see for themselves
the gathering wonder and shining hope.
But no; he won’t allow them to stay
in the comfort of their unlistening.
Before they can begin to get
even the smallest corner
of their collective crania around it all,
he provokes his native crowd
with the “no acceptance
in the prophet’s hometown,” line.
Who does he think he is?
You say you want a revolution,
well you know,
we all want to change the world.
Revolution #1, John Lennon, 1968.
The revolution failed in 1968.
The students of Prague, Chicago, West Berlin,
Paris, Mexico City, Madrid and other such places,
yearning, as they were, for a more just and true society,
gave it a fair shake,
but they were up against an indescribable behemoth.
In Luke’s gospel, the child-woman Mary
was the unlikely harbinger of a revolution
in which the powerful
were to be brought down from their thrones
and the lowly lifted up:
Vive la revolution!
It was left to her son and his assorted crew
of fishermen and stirrers to make the running,
to protest the injustice of power, greed and wealth,
among other things, in his own day.
His revolution failed, too,
but it gave rise to a movement that never quite died.
These insurgents achieved the occasional small victory,
but have not yet realised their lofty goals,
even after two millennia.
The demons continue mighty, powerful and fierce;
having added to their toolbox
of cunning and treacherous devices,
these fearsome powers go undetected and unnamed.
Still there remain a defiant few
who have not bent the knee before the gods
of capital, greed and comfort;
a vestigial company, marked by love,
that sees beyond the shining lights
and the glistening lies.
They form a tenacious remnant,
and hold tightly to outrageous dreams,
determined to maintain their revolutionary fervour.
They refuse to surrender to despair;
they will not abandon hope.
Growing up in the sixties
with Dylan, Lennon and Buffy Saint-Marie,
I also listened to the songs of Jesus.
He sang of freedom,
had compassion for outsiders,
and regularly warned
against the dangers of riches.
Identifying with those who struggle
and yearning for the revolution
that was surely coming,
I abandoned the politics of my parents
and took a sharp turn to the left.
The revolution never quite happened.
The powers of Capital and Wealth,
manifesting themselves in the persons of Fear and Greed, seem to have God’s measure.
They continue to hold much of the planet
in their thrall; in spite of serial betrayals
we still vote for them. Constantly anxious
that their supremacy might be challenged,
they take every opportunity
to use their abundant resources
to discredit, ridicule and revile their opponents;
lest civilization as we know it, be lost for good.
A world shaped by justice, generosity,
peace and compassion, may yet happen;
and without the violence and destruction
of bloody revolution. Such a miracle
will require many fearful dragons to be slain,
multiple tyrants to be opposed,
and manifold evils to be confronted
before the people can be truly free.
Together we can stand strong,
together we can make it happen; one day.
Roll on, Jesus’ gentle, (and costly),
revolution of love.
I still call myself a socialist,
and refuse to apologise.