It occurred to me before Christmas that Jesus represents the inverse of the "gods" of this world. Those who can, use their powers to save themselves from pain, from suffering, from hard work. The powerful cushion themselves as far as possible by making others do the hard work on their behalf; by letting others suffer in their place.
And the Incarnation - the idea that God became human in Jesus - means that the God of the "New Testament" embraces a world of suffering, coming to serve rather than to make others serve. The crucifixion of Jesus brings this to its climax - or perhaps its nadir. The depth to which this God-Man will sink. Humiliation, nakedness, clubbed and torn open, dragged out to the city dump, Gehenna, the place of uncleanness of every sort. Treated as unworthy of any sort of dignity or even of life itself, God-in-Jesus not only identifies with, but joins the ranks of, the world's scum, those whose lives are not only of no value, but whose breath is considered an active waste of oxygen.
Earlier this month I visited the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. It was such a beautiful day, it seemed sinful to enter those dark doors to face those grim realities. Yet I knew I would be failing the next generation, if I failed to take the step of informing myself. And there, in the ashes of the human beings discarded whilst their hair and shoes were stored as of, at least some value, I breathed the words of Jesus:
"Insomuch as you did it to the least of these my brethren, you did it to me."
Tonight, my brain made the connection. Our Holocaust is a Global one. The poorest of the poor deprived of their homes and subsistence by expanding deserts and torrential floods, increasingly powerful hurricanes and typhoons, and more of them; rising sealevels threatening vast expanses of inhabited land and the inevitable demographics of migration, economic refugees... Like most of us during the Third Reich, we can just go on assuming that it's not really as bad as they say...
Though it has to be said, there isn't going to be much left even for the rich if we don't act now to save the poor.
Another Word echoes: (The additions in brackets are my commentary.)
For whoever wants to save his life(style) will lose it,
but whoever loses his life(style) for me will save it.
What good is it for a man to gain the whole world,
and yet lose or forfeit his very self?
Luke 9: 24, 25