We have several wonderful images of the child Jesus (sweet & cute fellow). We have many much loved images of Jesus too (shepherd, teacher, brother, Lord, friend, miracle worker and so on). Probably a question is, what is one of the ‘not so liked’ images of Jesus? One of the intelligent responses is to ask a further question, ‘for whom?’ That makes things complicated a little. (Let the question remain).
Some of the images of Jesus which doesn’t fit to his titles as loving, compassionate, merciful human being are
- Jesus who is angry and who expels the merchants and money changers from the temple.
- Jesus, who gives clever (tricky/cunning) responses to the tricky/troubling questions of Pharisees (like Should we pay taxes/what is the authority of Jesus for all the things he was doing?)
One of the most interesting passages of the Bible (for me) is the passage of Zaccheus. The man, who was selfish and alone, who troubled the Jews (especially Jewish poor) was converted to a man who experienced salvation (liberation). He was ready to share with the poor; he was ready to be part of the liberation of the others through whatever he has given ( may be economic liberation…. may be more). An encounter with Jesus (Bible doesn’t give the testimony of Zaccheus to tell us about the moments of encounter) brought liberation to his life and he in turns become a liberator.
The story of the women caught in adultery is another powerful experience. She experienced the liberation. The popular Christian tradition identifies this lady as St. Mary Magdalene.
I am reading lot of stuff on the Liberation theology from Latin America. A continent suffering extreme injustice; but a continent extremely Christian. Where it has gone wrong? These type of questions have helped them to see the images of Jesus, which are in the Gospel, which may not be much loved by those in authority (any type of authority).
- Jesus as a liberator (Yes, he is the saviour of the world and offers us eternal life. Is it all?) Many a times the kingdom of God, which is already with us, is forgotten and reserved only for the eternal life. Yes, Jesus gives the strength for the suffering humanity in their sufferings. Is it all? No… he gives the power and strength to that suffering humanity to break open the structures of injustices. Yes, he is liberating us from the structural sins. He offers a complete, holistic liberation. When we take these dimensions seriously, Jesus becomes a real-life friend and inspiration for many more; but probably this image is a little troublesome for all forms of authority, especially those use authority to prolong and propagate the structures of sin.
- Jesus has a preferential love for the poor. He is partial towards their causes.
What is probably the invitation of Jesus in this Christmas? To experience Jesus and to experience his liberation (which is the liberation from all the shackles of sin and slavery) and to become agents of liberation. Personal liberation is senseless without a Communitarian liberation.