What would Jesus do?
This week, the question is quite relevant. If He was here, to see all that we have become — with the chasm dividing rich and poor growing ever-wider, with governments bailing out bankers but never the masses, with average folks having to borrow just to keep food on the table — what would He do?
The question occurred to me on Sunday, at the Catholic church I attend, and on the very same weekend the Occupiers finally came to Canadian cities. The gospel was a well-known one — the one about the attempt of the Pharisees to trap Jesus Christ with a question about taxes (Matthew 22:15).
“Give back to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s,” Christ said to them.
“And to God what is God’s.” Doesn’t sound much like a tax-fighter, does He?
The “what would Jesus do” question — WWJD, for short — is of course one of the great debates of this era, or any era. On the right, assorted televangelists and conservative politicians will always have us believe that the Son of God would have been a fan of Reaganomics, travelling to mega-churches in a Hummer, playing Hank Williams tunes as He went. They are continually invoking His name to legitimize their deeds.
But the fact is this: If you really want to know WWJD, He wouldn’t be, say, bailing out Wall Street bankers whose greed helped cause the 2009 recession, and who very nearly brought down the teetering walls of capitalism. As he memorably told His disciples (Mark 10:21), after telling a rich man to give everything away: “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God!”
Nor, for that matter, would He have been particularly pleased by the politicians who scrambled to bail out the bankers — and then turned their backs to the regular folks who lost their homes, their jobs, and their futures to the recession.
As in John 2:1, favouring the rich, the ones who wear finery, is “evil.”
God, said Christ, chooses the poor because they are “rich in faith.” They are the ones who deserve support. Not, one supposes, twenty-something millionaire bankers in their little red suspenders moving paper around.
As the peaceful Occupier movement spread to Canadian cities this weekend, the threat they represent to the bankers — and the bankers’ allies — wasn’t difficult to see. They are leaderless, and they lack an agenda that a dismissive corporate media can summarize in a soundbite.
But the Occupiers are the first truly populist, progressive movement to seize peoples’ imaginations in a long, long time.
In this way — and I know this will anger some conservatives, but too bad — the Occupiers are a bit Christ-like. As noted most memorably in Matthew 25:31, when Judgment Day arrives, the ones who will be admitted into the Kingdom are the ones who have done the most for “the least” among us — the hungry, the sick, the poor.
If you strive to know Him, like some of us do, there can’t be much doubt that the rabbi named Jesus Christ was no capitalist. Nor is there any mystery WWJD with the Occupiers, this past weekend.
He’d be right down there with them, chanting against the bankers and the politicians who do the bankers’ bidding.