2/25/2014

What would Jesus do?


The sun was just beginning to burn the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Some weeks before, four fishermen had been fished from their trade by the carpenter’s son to be his disciples. They were now with him. Sitting on the shores of the sea they had always regarded as a home. Their past, forgotten; hope erected in the future.

Jesus, for that was the name of the son of the carpenter whom the church had denounced, was busy preaching to his congregation. His voice was small, his frame was little – almost frail. The cloth he had used to wrap his body in was dirty such that in within his congregation you could hear some little whispers of people wondering what made this man believe he was the son of God and not just Joseph, the carpenter.

His voice had no charisma. It lacked that magic and fire that John the Baptist (now in prison) had had in those days when he had baptized people in this very same sea, calling them of the wicked generation, calling them to turn away from their sins and – in instances – labeling them offspring of the vipers.

However, the carpenter’s son’s sermons were not that magical. They were more of philosophy. More of teachings.

“Happy are those who are humble,” he attempted to raise his voice. “They will receive what God has promised them.”

A murmur swept through. They were asking him to raise his voice. He made a vain attempt to raise it. He did but it was not enough. The people just learned that the best way to hear him was to maintain a silence within themselves and silent they went as he went about delivering his teachings.

Minutes later, he got up from the ground he was sitting on – not a chair or a rock. He did not bother dusting himself. He just rose and started walking around his congregation that had started swelling little by little.

“If you forgive others the wrongs they have done you then your Father in heaven will also forgive you,” he said lifting up a child from a ground. The child smiled. He smiled at it before proceeding:

“But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive the wrongs you have done.”

There was a lack of ease in the audience as his eyes swept through. Each of them remembered the neighbor they had vowed to never talk to while others remembered the time they were whipped after somebody had said a lie against them before Caesar. They had thought it best to just forget the man and place him in a cubicle. Of enemies. Now, this man was saying it was illegal – nay, a sin – to do such a thing? No! Some thought, this man does not know what he is talking about.

Those who had just been released out of prison on false accusations left. The man, the son of the carpenter, was insulting them.

“Do not judge others so that God will not judge you…” he said before a commotion interrupted him. He held the child tightly.

In the eastern direction was coming a group of church elders and leaders – they were called the Pharisees and Sadducees – in their overgrown beards and well-ironed robes. Before them was a man whom they were dragging by the shoulders. Another offender of the law.

Suddenly, the congregation that had been feeding on the simple and loving message of Jesus was stirred. They made way for the esteemed men who, every Sabbath, quoted the scriptures for them and told them to live in accordance with what it said so that they reserve a place for themselves in paradise.

Jesus gently put the child down, approached the esteemed men and freed the man who was being dragged by the shoulders.

“Teacher,” one of the Pharisees – he was a scholar at Capernaum University, a Professor – said with all the sarcasm a man of his education could master. Jesus did not respond.

“We found this man sinning,” he finished.

Jesus was focused not on the team of the well-read men of God but on their victim. He had helped him to a rock.

“This man,” said another of the Pharisees – a Professor of theology who had specialized in the Torah – “was found right in the act of sinning. Teacher, we want you to help us as to what we should do with him?”

Jesus stayed for a moment. For the first time, he surveyed the team of the well-read men of God and he saw mockery on their faces.

He shifted his attention and went to the accused sinner. His head was bowed down. He was overweighed with shame and an apparent fear.

“What did you do?”

“This man did the detestable,” a Sadducee was the one who spoke on his behalf. “If you have read your Bible well, teacher,” he emphasized mockingly on the word teacher, “this man belongs to that category of people found in Genesis chapter 19 from verses 1 to 11. They are the ones who made your Father,” he said with a sneer the words your Father, “angry that He had to let fire rain on this earth.

“It was after that that the good Lord writing through his servants wrote in the book of Leviticus in chapter 18, verse 22, and chapter 20, verse 13, warning us against these people. Actually, your own Father,” he certainly enjoyed the tease that the word father left his mouth with, “said that we should kill people like him by stoning. We should stone them to death.”

At this, Jesus noticed that the men already had stones in their hands and some of his congregation had gotten stones as well in readiness for the stoning feast.

“Now, teacher, what do you advise us to do with this man who was caught lying down with another man as he would with a woman?” asked the theology professor, hitting the nail on the head and sending the crowd on a rampage for they had now understood what the man was being accused of.

Jesus signaled the crowd to be silent and after minutes the crowd was silent. He moved over to the man: a handsome gentleman who was finely clothed as well.

“Is it true what they say of you?” he asked mildly.

The man cried and nodded his head. The crowd gasped all at once before falling quiet again at the silent command of their church leaders with their eyes. 

“What shall we do with him for the law plainly states that we should stone such a worse than a dog individual to death?”

Jesus knelt down. 

He wrote. 

In the sand. And then, he faced away.

The church elders read and, one by one, each of them left carrying their stones with them. They carried with them a huge part of the congregation that had been listening to the son of the carpenter who was claiming to be the Messiah.

“Where are those who accused you?” he asked after minutes.

“They are gone,” the homosexual said.

2/15/2014

The time you meet a stranger who reminds you of a long gone friend


When you meet a stranger with thin lips, a light complexion and a figure like that of the friend who died in 2004, memories overwhelm you.

You look at the stranger, sitting next to you in a public transport, with a bewilderment that forces her to smile – not an innocent smile, of course, but one that warns you politely that your stare is making her uncomfortable.

And, in turn you give her back a smile. The same smile you could have given your friend were she alive but then you suddenly go back into a space in time. A space you only keep in memory but will never have it again.

When you meet a stranger who reminds of a long gone closest friend, you are reminded of how you had come to learn of her death: she had not suffered a lot. She had been sick for two (or is it three?) days, she had complained of chest pains and when they took her to the hospital, the doctors said it was pneumonia and they had just given her some antibiotics.

You remember that it was a Wednesday, that day they had taken her to the hospital.

You had heard the same day that she was not fine but then your JC examinations were just in session and you had said you would visit her over the weekend. It was not proper to be visiting a she-friend in the cover of the night, you had told yourself, and the weekend was just a better spot. Actually, you had set the 9 a.m. of Saturday as the time to visit her.

You were stupid, now you know, you never knew nature for as you returned from school on Friday you had found people gathered at her place and the women were wailing. You had spotted that voice of her mother – the one she had taken after – atop all the other voices.

You had rushed home to drop your books and, of course, thinking that you would hear what you never expected to hear but there she was, your first born sister tying a knot of her chilundu ready to go to the funeral.

“Who has died?” you had asked, tears forming in the corners of your eyes.

She had confirmed your fears. Your friend was no more. She had suffered for two (or is it three?) days and then…

Gone!

Just like that.

She had not even said farewell, had not even held your hand as she slipped out of this life as many people say of their loved ones at their points of departure.

You remembered the last time you had talked. It was Monday morning. She had bought you a cheap card wishing you all the best in the examinations which she herself had already Jumped Carefully over the previous year. She had told you that if you would ever dare fail the examinations then you were a wizard. How hard both of you had laughed at that!

Then, you had rushed to the examination room, your heart full of joy, the card in your pocket. It was the invigilator who saw something bulging in your pocket and had stopped you only to find that it’s a card but still had forced you to surrender it; of course, after joking that even cards from girlfriends were not allowed in examination rooms. How you wished that to be true: the girlfriend part.

But, she was older than you: three years it was.

Not that that the age difference mattered but that just that you thought you could not have her. Besides, the signals she had sent to you were mixed. You were young, had never fallen in love (or even lust) before and never knew how to interpret the signs she sent through her actions.

When, in a public transport, you sit next to a stranger who speaks in the same way that a long gone friend spoke to you, you feel like crying; actually, you cry. You cry deep within yourself. You mourn inside the chambers of your heart and you remember the Sunday afternoon she was buried.

You remember how you had wept as her coffin was being lowered into the grave while her church members sang sorrowful tunes that were not really accompanied by sorrowful tones. 

You wish they understood how this death was not just like any other they had sang at – at least not to you.

You remember how her mother – she was the only parent your friend had after losing her father to tuberculosis some years back – had cried for her first born daughter whom everyone was convinced was a genius. You remember how the mother had asked questions that nobody was ready to answer. Anyway, it appeared she was asking to nobody in particular.

You remember how with weak knees you had walked over to the mound of soil that now covered her as part of her friends that were to lay a wreath on her grave. You had wept before that mound of soil, your knees had completely gone weak and you had knelt there – praying for her, praying for you, praying for the world. You wished for the earth to crack and swallow you.

The time you travel in a public transport with a stranger who reminds you of a friend gone in 2004, the atheist in you that developed after her death as you questioned why a caring God would take away such a beautiful and caring friend from you starts to be beaten into some form of religious submission.

You suddenly start to believe that there is a God and an afterlife. You start to believe that you will, after all, meet your friend and exchange stories once again. You will tell her of the things that happened to you the time she was away and, most importantly, you will ask if it were true that she had died due to abortion complications as some rumor mongers started spreading weeks after her burial?