Some two thousand and two squared squared years ago today, a bloke was born a bit outside of Jersalem who would go on to say some quite interesting and powerful things. The general gist of his instruction had to do with peace and love and favoring kindness over power, which was quite radical at the time ... and, in many ways, is no less so now. Today is, traditionally, the day that we are supposed to celebrate his life, and his death, and what it meant and continues to mean to quite a large portion of the world’s populace.
And, sure, maybe it wasn’t exactly today, and maybe it wasn’t exactly 2,016 years ago, and maybe he didn’t say exactly the words we have written down in our holy books, and maybe he really was a divine figure or maybe he was just a guy, and, hell: maybe he never lived at all and the whole thing is entirely made up—
Whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.
For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Give to everyone who begs from you; and of him who takes away your goods do not ask them again.
If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.
Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to cast a stone.
Judge not, that ye be not judged.
You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
Even if all this is completely fabricated and there never was a Jesus at all—
So this is still a resounding, powerful message, regardless of its source. It sort of makes me feel like Jewish detective William Kinderman in William Peter Blatty’s Legion, who addresses a crucifix in a Catholic church thusly:
Who are you? God’s son? No, you know I don’t believe that. ... I don’t know who you are, but you are Someone. ... Do you know how I know? From what you said. When I read, “Love your enemy,” I tingle ... No one from the earth could ever say what you said. No one could even make it up. Who could imagine it? The words knock you down.
I think we forget just how unlikely those words are. Perhaps they’ve become dulled through repetition. But they really are quite remarkable. This is the main reason I love Legion so much: Kinderman—
So even if you don’t quite subscribe to all—
From all of us here that make up this fractured, flawed, fantastic, fortunate family—