Dead & alive, crucified & resurrected?
Easter: feast of
faith vs reason!
The message is
“Comfort the afflicted & Afflict the comfortable!”
- james kottoor
Yes, the Man called Jesus was dead for sure, but still alive? He was crucified undoubtedly, yet got resurrected? These are the nagging, conflicting questions, at least in the subconscience of most of the thinking sections of humanity as they are about to celebrate or commemorate the festival of Easter.
Time and tide wait for no man. The simple fact is that this inexorable flow of time came to be divided between BC and AD is proof enough that this young rebel and revolutionary, this fiery preacher, this crazy Christ, you may taunt him out of frustration, has established himself at the heart of time, nay made himself the fulcrum on which time and tide go about with their merry go round.
Too young a leader?
You may both fault him and excuse him because he was an immature, inexperienced green horn in his 30s who could have been only be a beginner in the youth wing of today’s Congress party. Instead he took leadership role too young and “made a mess”(recall Pope Francis) by talking too much. So some well wishers must have even sighed saying: “if only he had kept his blessed mouth shut, like many of our revered leaders, he could have lived a thousand years and not died so young.”
But just because of what he said and did, this youngster from Galilee had to die and get buried for sure. But the unexpected has happened. Today he is more alive than the times 2000 years ago, when he trudged the length and breadth of Palestine as a historical figure. If he was known only in the Roman empire, when alive, now he is known even in the utmost corners of the globe.
It is only very rarely that human beings outlive their mortal lives and continue to be a live wire in the minds and hearts of all humans. We have any number of them like Plato, Aristotel, Socretes, Caesar, Alexander, Napoleon etc because of the spectacular things they did during their lives. The crisp saying: Homo humus, fama fumus, finis chinis. (Man is mud(made of), fame is like smoke that fades fast and the end of man is ashes), was coined to apply to the generality of humans borne of man and woman.
But then, he was known to have been borne of a woman only, though unreasonable and unparallel in history and therefore hard to digest. Here begins the conflict of faith and reason at the very start of his life
Such persons without a known father are termed ‘bastards’. But none has ever come forward to cast that slur at him. Nay the credulous crowd shout in unison: “No one could accuse him of sin!” Famous people are famous because they are generally exceptions to the rule. Was he such a person?
But this man Jesus seems to outshine all past heroes of history because of the many claims he made and the various controvarsies that surround him even now. In any case the first question is settled. A man called Jesus was a historic person for sure. He lived 2000 years ago and though not present physically in our midst, he continues to live in the minds of least some 2.5 crore Christians around the globe.
Crucified and Resurrected?
The second question is: Crucified, yet got resurrected? The answer to its first part also is as clear as daylight, because it is in the annals of history which says: ‘He was crucified and buried but three days after his burial he disappeared from the tomb.’ Followers who believe in his divinity are adamant in their conviction, he rose from the dead. Others question it. There are also quasi historical stories in circulation that claim, he was revived after he was taken down from the cross, lived a hidden life, came to Kashmir and died there.
Some Muslim community even today claim to possess his tomb there. There are also stories that during his life span between 12 and 30 he came to India, Thakshasila and Nalanda, studied the Vedas and Hindu spirituality before starting his preaching mission at the age of 30. So there are controversies galore about his resurrection.
Here comes now the major question: how was he known when alive and known today? As God incarnate or as Man everlasting? The secular man is led by his reason looking for scientific facts as proof, while the religious by one’s variety of faith in the unseen or unknown divine being beyond the reach of any empirical proof. That brings up the unending question of conflict: Faith or Reason? Or both and? Mankind, both believers and unbelievers are caught up with this question even now. There doesn’t seem to be any way out for both. So they settle themselves to tolerate each other as far as possible.
But the war of words continues between hard core believers in a man-made God, since God-made-God is an Oximoron, a non-sequitur, an impossibility, a contradiction. So no point in continuing this part of discussion – an exercise in futility — although it is still led by leaders in world religions like Christianity, Islam and Hinduism. Our only hope and prayer is that they desist from descending and degenerating into wars of deeds exterminating one another through crusades, jihard and Khar-vapsi.
As for believers in a God-made man Jesus and their opponents, who insist, he was a man-made God (Recall Vayalar: Man created religions and religions created Gods…etc.) it is and it will be a never ending battle of wits between Faith and reason. So it is pointless to continue it further either.
Comforting the afflicted & afflicting the comfortable
But what is it that makes Jesus stand out as super human among all notables in the world? This top trait could differ from person to person and for good reason. For this scribe it is the fact that he was the one who was the embodment of “Comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable’’ – both to a fault — all through his known public life. Try as much as you can and you will never succeed to equal him in this art. Why? Because, he was described as: “Sweet Jesus, meek and mild; equally as bitter Jesus rough and wild,” as place and persons demanded. He was the exemplar par excellence for harmonising these two conflicting traits in himself to suit various occasions.
No need to recount all instances to prove it. Enough to recall all his works of mercy and compassion nutshelled in the phrase: “He went about doing good” befriending the poor — healing the sick, feeding the hungry and raising even the dead. Equally stricking was his act of cleansing the temple and railing against the “holier-than-thou” high priests and Pharisees of his time. Mathew 23 is the shouting proof. These instances continue to make him a living legend dear to the minds and hearts of both believers and unbelievers today.
Divisisve forces on the rise
As a result the world today is getting divided between divisive and unifying forces: between globalizers who bat for unity, universality, brotherhood and complimentarity through interdependence and cooperation led by a UN and forces of city-states batting for independent islands of affluence in a sea of misery with the war cry “my country first, right of wrong” exemplified by Brexit and Donald Trump busy building walls and banning immigrants who do not suit his liking.
Incidently Jesus lived and died, not to divide but to unite the whole of humanity by the bonds of brotherhood under the fatherhood of God and to build a humane humanity presenting himself as the ideal ‘Son of Man’, 85 times in the Gospels, the ideal Man for all seasons, places and cultures. He was a Man who befriended all starting with the despised, outlawed, out casts, foreigners, broken hearted and marginalised Samaritans.
He founded no religion, made no priesthood, offered no sacrifice on any altar, except the great sacrifice of laying down his life for his friends. Recall his words in the Gethsemen: “If you are looking for me (Jesus of Nazareth) let these my friends go free.” He was born a Jew, lived as a Jew and died as a Jew. “Jesus King of the Jews” was the inscription put on his cross. His followers came to be called Christians only years later in Antioch. He never became a Christian, but remained a Jew, an ideal human being “comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable” class, especially the High priestly rulers of his times whom he labelled as “hypocrites, white washed sepulchres and brood of vipers,” without mincing words,
Therefore is not his life and message a renewed call today to dump all man-made organised religions (organised religions are for the organisers) in the dustbin of outdated history and begin anew to live as one united humane human family of brothers and sisters without any of the divisions of colour, class, caste, creed and country? May that day dawn soon is our fervent prayer and the good wishes to all. CCV extends its Happy Easter of peace and joy to every one of our valued readers.
“Peace be to you” were the words Jesus reportedly told his apostles on his first appearance to them after resurrection. For this peace to flourish divisive forces in every country should be shamed and defeated at all cost for comforting the little ones in need in our midst.
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Published in: CCV, Kerala, 15/4/17, Daily News, New York, 15th, Joychen Puthukulam, Chicago 15th,