The usurpation of the gospel by the MAGA antichrist freak show has, among other things, provoked responses from people with genuine hearts for the alien, the orphan, and the widow, as well as courageous practitioners of precisely that love for the least of these that Jesus commanded and blessed. I much prefer–and think Jesus preferred–those who put obedience to him over mere Correctness. And I prefer both the Least of These and those who care about them to those who put naked lies and cynical exploitation of Christiany aesthetics–whether a High Mass or a Precious Moments Figurine–over both. But what I prefer most of all is both obedience and a clear understanding of the mind of Jesus, since mystical union with the Blessed Trinity–not mere “social order” is the ultimate goal of the Christian life. The commands to love God and love neighbor are inextricably linked. But they are also first and second for a reason. Any attempt to separate them, reverse them, or worst of all, pit them against one another is an evil.
All of which is to say that while I appreciate the good intentions behind the diatribe I am about to quote, I also find myself having a reaction similar to a music lover listening to a loud and lusty singer who keeps going off key. It’s good that the singer is trying so hard to sing, but it could still use some work.
A reader writes:
Jesus was not crucified for his beliefs but for his actions.
Jesus was crucified for his repeated claims to be the Son of the living God, whch were expressed through both word and act. He was not hated for doing the ordinary works of prayer, fasting and almgiving his culture expected of him, but for performing acts that buttressed his implicit and explicit claim to be, not only the messianic Son of David, but God Almighty. Such a claim was parlayed into charge of insurrection so he could be executed by the Roman power as “King of the Jews”. But the reason he was handed over to Rome for death by the Sanhedrin was because he knew, not “believed” he was the I AM, the God of Israel. None of that is, of course, a reason to ignore or disobey him when it comes to his commands about how to treat the poor. On the contrary, precisely what he invokes in telling us to care for the least of these is his divine authority as the Coming King and Judge of the World:
When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. (Mt 25:31–33).
Say what you will about such words, but they are not the self-assessment of somebody who just has a few ideas about improved food distribution or housing reform. Yes, Jesus calls for action and has no truck with those who are all pious talk and no deeds.
“Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.’ (Mt 7:21–23)
But you are kidding yourself if you think that the revolution of soul he is demanding of his disciples does not include a revolution in their thinking about the answer to the question “Who do you say that I am?”