It is easy to quote someone famous, and elaborate upon their words. It is easy to quote Jesus, Muhammad, Siddhartha, or Krishna, and then comment on them.
It is not easy to be original. Jesus was original, genuine.
When the scholars, the men of letters asked him what was the first commandment, he took no time thinking. “Love God with all your mind, heart, and soul.” The questioners were smart, They did not ask Jesus about his teachings. Theirs was a generic question, “what is the first commandment”. And, Jesus answered in the same generic language too!
They wanted to have an answer, which would appeal to all. Jesus did just that. And, when asked what was the second commandment, Jesus replied, it was to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.
Now, this is not an ordinary answer. This is a statement of faith. Therefore, it contains a very high risk. This is a dangerous statement. This statement of faith demands “full commitment” without any reservation. It demands totality.
You do not ask your neighbor if he/she is a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim, a Hindu, a Buddhist, a Confucian, or an Atheist. You do not love him/her because of their religious or any other affiliation. You love them for what they are.
In this statement, God matters above all.
Churches and religious institutions come and go, God remains. You may like to refer It as the Existence, no problem at all. It is That, beyond He-God, and She-God. It is THAT.
This is difficult.
Easier said, than done.
The scholars, the men of book, the high priests were amazed. They were familiar with such statements, but not familiar with the tone with which Jesus repeated them. jesus repeated those statements without quoting the scriptures.
Jesus’ answer was direct.
He did not need any scripture, any religious tenet, dogma, or doctrine to support him, whereas, the priests, the scholars are not always confident of their own statements. They must have the support of the scriptures.
It is easy to say but difficult to practice.
Jesus is a real risk-taker. This is his cross, his bravery is his cross. This is the cross he carries until this date. His courage is his cross.
The Talmud says the same thing, it is love that is the essence of Torah, and the rest is the commentary thereof. The scholars and the pundits are busy quoting such verses, Jesus is busy practicing them.
Jesus is a man of guts, and also a renegade, a rebel par excellence.
Do we remember what he did at the temple in Jerusalem? He rebuked and ransacked the huts of the money lenders, while his disciples watched. And, the spectators were bewildered. They did not quite know how to respond to the situation.
He would not allow anyone to stand between his fellow beings and God. he would not allow anyone to commercialize the word of God. he would not allow anyone to institutionalize religion. His message was clear, go and spread the gospel (there was no written gospel)….. What he meant by that was “the tidings of love” – the good news that Love alone triumphs.
Do we understand him?
Do we have the same courage like him?
And, we still call ourselves his disciples?
We are devoted to his corpse, his picture, his statue, but not to him. Or, perhaps devoted to church, but not to him. Being devoted to him needs a lot of courage.
If we are not ready to carry our own crosses, then there is no benefit worshipping him. There is no need to light candles and burn incense, for such acts of outside worship can never ever make us any stronger, or any braver.
What is the meaning of the birth of Jesus? Every second, many babies are born. And, many people die too. Christmases come and go. How different is Jesus’ birthday from the birthday of our siblings and friends? Christmas is much more festive than any other celebration – so what?
What makes Jesus different is the cross. What makes his birthday different is the cross that he carries. Today, as we celebrate Christmas, let us remove the cross from the wall and carry it. We have to carry the cross of our fears, our ignorance, or ego, our arrogance, our greed, etcetera, etcetera…. and, crucify our little selves….
Let us learn from the persistence of Jesus. Let us learn from the way he responded to the challenges of life. Let us glorify his rebellious spirit. Let us crucify our egos and allow the Christ Consciousness arise within us.
Jesus is not concerned with the kingdom of the world, his is the kingdom of the heaven. Yes, but we forget that he also said that the kingdom of heaven is within each one of us. As long as there is a single person suffering from amnesia – our work continues. We shall toil on until the last person is cured from his/her sickness.
Forget your own salvation, forget moksha, nirvana, and heaven. Heaven is here, right here.
Serve your families, serve your society, but with a detached spirit…. This is the essence of our Jesus’ teachings. Do we remember him saying that he comes with a sword to separate us from those we love. What do those words mean?
Let us make this Christmas different. let us fill this Christmas with a new light, a new understanding, a new enlightenment.
Jesus is with us ever. If we do not see him, that there must be some problem with our vision, our sight. We can lose his sight, but he never does. He is within us reminding us ever of our destiny.
“Ibu, Ibu (meaning mother in Indonesian),” I once asked my nanny. I was hardly 5 then, but somehow i remember this incident very vividly, “why is Jesus so sad?”
My nanny answered, “because we are sad, we get sick, we fall.”
I responded, “then, i shall not be sad, i shall not be sick, i shall not fall. I shall make him happy and smile….!” A decade later the famous scriptwriter Khwaja Ahmad Abbas would have the same lines for the script he wrote for a movie. Strange! To me, that proves that the same consciousness is running through all of us….. Merry Christmas!
Original Version : Memikul Salib bersama Yesus
English Translation by Putu Liza Kusuma Mustika