Jesus’s attraction to the folk of Judea was twofold. The first of His offerings was His simplification of the traditional Mosaic / Levitical demands upon the Jewish people. As I’ve posted Matthew 19:16-19 many times already, I’ll refrain from doing so today. Nevertheless, it is at the heart of Christ’s assertion that “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Many have failed to grasp the import of that passage of the Gospels, and more’s the pity.
The second of His attractions was, of course, the multitude of miracles He performed. Many of those involved the healing of chronically sick or crippled persons. Even more strikingly, in at least two instances He returned a dead person to life. When Christians speak of “the imitation of Christ,” they don’t mean that we should attempt similar phenomena. Ordinary mortals possess the ordinary powers of mortals; we don’t command Divine authority over all things, as Christ did.
Yet both of these threads remain for Christians of our time to follow, as ineptly as we might.
The Gospel According To John, which is not one of the “Synoptic triad,” contains this passage of great importance:
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. [John 13:34-35]
Now, strictly speaking that commandment is not “new.” Neither was it the first and only time He pronounced it. Remember that He included as the Second Great Commandment that we should love our neighbors as ourselves. There’s no real difference between those two prescriptions.
However, it was the first time He commanded it directly to His Apostles. Though the subject is only lightly treated in any of the four Gospels, there was some degree of contention among the Apostles: jockeying for pride of place. It’s possible that His betrayal by Judas Iscariot was in part animated by Judas’s envy of those Apostles who received more of His attention, and by resentment of the Redeemer Himself. That Jesus was aware of that jostling for place, I have no doubt. It strikes me as plausible that He proclaimed the Second Great Commandment directly to them, as John’s Gospel tells us, specifically to emphasize that they were not exempt from any of His teachings.
After all, “Do as I say, not as I do” was as serious a problem in classical Judea as it is today. Ask Caiaphas and his brethren on the Sanhedrin.
The Sturm und Drang over the election might have a while yet to run. I don’t expect the Left’s anger or disappointment over it to subside any time soon. Neither do I expect any major figures on the Left to counsel their fellows to calm and conciliation of the victorious Right. That’s not in the Left’s political DNA. It would be a millennial event for them to “break type” after their recent, resounding repudiation by the electorate.
Similarly, one of the hazards of a smashing victory is for the victors to lord it over the vanquished in an arrogant, obnoxious fashion. The luminaries of the Right haven’t generally behaved that way after our triumphs, but for us to react nastily after the ocean of vitriol the Left has poured on us would be all too easy. If we want those who have supported conservative and Republican candidates to remain our supporters, we must be better than that. We must resist the temptation to strut, to denigrate the intelligence or sincerity of our opponents, and to grind their defeat into their faces.
The nation must begin to heal at once.
At the most recent census, 74% of respondents self-identified as Christians. There’s never been a more important time to be Christians in action as well as in name. We must be our best selves: the most gracious and magnanimous we can possibly be. That does not mean concessions about policy. Neither does it mean permitting our detractors to go unanswered and unrefuted. It means conducting ourselves as courteous citizens, with dispassion and unfailing civility as we undertake the necessities of the day.
May God the Father create in each of us a magnanimous spirit.
May God the Son lead us into becoming our best selves.
May God the Holy Spirit animate all our dealings, whether with our allies or our opponents, with brotherly love, for there is a speck of the Divine in every man that lives.
And may God, in all His Three Persons, bless and keep you all.