Jesus the Revolutionary! Last Supper of Capitalism or Communism?
Why not respond in a Christian spirit to CPM’s overtures to befriend? If Pope is playing politics why can’t priests? Stop vivisecting man by stifling in him sense of the sacred & religion will find its due place in public life.
When it comes to religion and politics, vivisection of Man
into water tight compartments seems to have become the fashion of the day. Not
that they have separate existence in man. They can’t, but conflicting interest
groups have forced humans to keep them separate for easy
exploitation by these groups.
While political leaders pretend to take care of man’s material needs, religious pundits pretend to do the same with his spiritual needs. In the process he becomes the target of double exploitation and taxation. But the fact is material and spiritual needs of man remain inseparable like the two sides of the same coin. Equally every human act emerges only as the product of the spiritual informing and enlivening the material in humans.
It is in this context that a tempest in a tea cop has
erupted at the 20th state conference of the CPM in Trivandrum. Among the topics of controversy
were: 1. The portrait of Jesus displayed in the company of Marx, Engels and Che
Guevara as one of the revolutionary leaders of history who stood for the
downtrodden; 2. Depiction of the last supper of capitalism headed by Obama and
his coterie of timeservers or poodles as the anticlimax of Leonardo Da Vinci’s
last supper of Jesus with his bunch of fisher folks. 3. The poster of St.
Sebastian, a martyr for the cause of the oppressed, with messages of good
wishes for the Parish community celebrating his feast and 4. All the efforts,
overt and covert, made by the CPM to find affinity between communism and
Discussion and dialogue to build bridges can take place only
when parties involved stop distrusting each other and start taking at face
value what is said, written or depicted by partners in dialogue. If one starts
questioning or guessing the intentions of the speaker or reading in between
lines, it can end up only in a war of words to score points to prove the other
wrong by all means. Both in politics and religion what is needed is to reduce
differences, increase areas of consensus and collaboration for the common good.
Here it is for the followers of Jesus to set the better example of forgiving
and forgetting, of becoming all things for all to win all for the cause of
good, of going an extra mile with the adversary to help him see sense, of
showing the other cheek when beaten, nay even loving one’s enemies by praying
for them and returning good for evil.
That being the case I simply fail to see why some of the right wing politicians and many in the priestly and high priestly class take offense at the four things the CPM reportedly has done to get the sympathy of Christians and churches. Their ulterior motive could have been to get the Christian votes. Since that is not said it is wrong for anyone to impute motives that can cause discord and dissension, instead of consensus and collaboration. Let us take a look at the four controversial points.
Jesus was Revolutionary
As for Jesus is there anyone in the world or in any of the
churches who does not accept that he was one of the best known revolutionary
figures in history, an iconoclast par excellence, a stinging critic of the
rottenness entrenched in the priestly and political class of his times. Weren’t
his speeches at times vitriolic? Many a time didn’t they border on the
forbidden and cross limits of decency and civility by today’s
Think of his use of phrases “whitewashed sepulchres”, “brood of
vipers” to describe the revered high priests of the Church he belonged to, or
the word “Fox” to describe Herod his political adversary. Will anyone dare use
such epithets today to criticise highly placed persons in any Church or
political party? For a contrast, think of the furore that erupted when Pinarayi
Vijayan referred to a bishop as “Nikrushta Jeevi” (detestable creature).
With no malice or ill will to anyone I am often tempted to say: “If only Jesus had kept his blessed mouth shut, he would have lived a thousand years.” Then how could he die so young for which he was born? I leave it to theologians to indulge in their pastime of theological speculations. If the CPM leadership, starting with Karat at national level and Vijayan at state level are beginning to see Jesus and his followers in various churches including those in Piravam as their natural allies, isn’t it time for church leadership to react the same way as the early church reacted to Saul when he turned Paul? That ought to be the Christian thing to do, not questioning their sincerity or honesty, to my mind
Surging Sacred Sense
Besides religion and spirituality are coming back with a
bang in former communist countries in Eastern Europe.
Our comrades like their counterparts could be recovering from their prolonged
intoxication due to the systematic administration of the Marxist opium and
feeling the irresistible urge in their sober moments to listen to the yearnings
of the spirit, groanings of the soul and surging sense of the sacred,
long suppressed but can’t be uprooted from humans made up of soul and body,
matter and spirit.
As for the poster on the last supper of capitalism, I see it
as a powerful cartoon -- exaggeration is the essence of cartooning -- calling
all followers of Jesus to return to their roots, but to befriend and sup with
the comrades, not with the capitalists. For the comrades alone, they think,
are the real friends of the fisher folk, the lowly Lazaruses
and not the highly placed rich and well-to-do for whom it is
as hard to taste heaven as it is for the camel to pass
through a needle’s eye.
In the third instance of resorting to a picture of St. Sebastian who died fighting for the oppressed under Diocletian, to convey greetings to parishioners celebrating his feast, may be, our comrades should have been complimented for going an extra mile and choosing the Christian path to convey their good will. In this they have taken the thunder out of the hands of Christians. So the Christian response in turn should have been to extend a cordial invitation to the comrades to become card carrying members of the parish.
Christianity & Communism
Finally what about affinity between Christianity and communism? There are no two opinions about who started communism. The first Christian community started it all as described in the Acts and as a result there was no one in need in that community since the principle followed was: to each one according to his need and from each according to his capacity. Outsiders saw it as proof of their love for one another and so many joined their way of life. Of course there were crooks like Ananias and Safira, as there was a Judas in the company of Jesus.
But the difference between that Christian communism and today’s Marxist communism is best described by Archbishop Fulton J.Sheen who said: “The Christian Communism said, all that is mine is yours (shared everything out of love}, today’s communists say, all that is yours is mine (they take it by force}” Christian communists never resort to the barrel of the gun to create equality and build a workers’ paradise. Fortunately some of our comrades, it looks, are realising their past folly and wondering whom to befriend now, the prosperous Chinese model or the Christian model, because both preach equality and practise inequality.
But the silver lining in the whole event management was the statement of Jacobite Metropolitan Verghese Mar Koorilos: "There is nothing wrong in what CPI (M) has done. I am a Christian who believes that Christ has been the greatest revolutionary in history." He even added that if Christ’s picture was not there, the list of liberators would not have been complete. Equally note worthy was Prakash Karat’s quote of Fidel Castro: “there are ten thousand times more coincidences of Christianity with communism than with capitalism.”
Pope Playing Politics?
Now, what would Jesus say if he were here today to comment
on Fr. Bismarque contesting elections in Goa,
another instance of Church dabbling in politics? We have heard what the grand
Inquisitors in the Church are saying in the previous issues of IC. But
the moot question is: Is not the Pope playing politics when he acts as the
secular head of a State? If yes how can he deny the same to his priests?
it is the other way round. A secular Queen is the spiritual head of the
Anglican Church. Then aren’t both playing politics and religion at the same
time? They are and there wouldn’t be anything wrong if there wasn’t the present
man-made law that religion and politics should not mix, vivisecting man in the
process. What is needed is to save the man and ditch the law since Sabbath is
made for man, not vice versa, to take a cue from Jesus.
Years ago when Pope Paul VI was 80 New Leader of
Chennai wrote an editorial: Should the Pope Resign? Vast number of readers said
“YES”. One of the readers sent all the responses to the Pope and got an
appreciative reply which he in turn sent to the weekly which published it. Some
French papers thought the weekly conducted an opinion poll on Papal retirement
and called the editor: L’Enfant Terrible de l’India (terrible child of India) for the
dare-devil act in those days. That was how I learned that phrase for the first
Yes, unless you become like little children you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. We all have to be frank and fearless like children in asking our honest questions, even if they are disturbing, inconvenient and embarrassing ones, especially when we are faced with irreconcilable monstrosities and insurmountable roadblocks in life. We may not get ready answers but the questions will keep pestering the minds of those who are bound to give the answer and will explode in God’s own good time, not for any one’s destruction but to break open shut minds and closed lips to come out with right answers to help everyone move forward to live to the full the freedom of the children of God.
The author can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org