Published on Consortiumblog, by Rev. Howard Bess, November 8, 2010.
… According to the Luke gospel, after Jesus was baptized by John the Baptizer, he withdrew for 40 days to think, ponder, and pray.
His next stop was a synagogue gathering in his home community, Nazareth. Jesus read from an Isaiah scroll, and then laid out his four-point agenda.
First, he was going to take up the causes of the poor. Second, he was going to work for the release of the people, who were incarcerated or oppressed. Third, he was going to bring sight to the blind. Fourth, he was proclaiming The Year of the Lord.
That was a huge agenda for a 30-year-old rabbi from a tiny village, who had no experience, no following, and no formal training.
Particularly challenging was the fourth proposal. The Year of the Lord was a reference to an Old Testament law that required a complete redistribution of wealth. Every 50 years all land holdings were to be abandoned and redistributed among the Israelites. It had never been done, but the law was still on the books.
The Jesus agenda was tough. Taking up the causes of the poor meant challenging the Roman tax system and the fee system of the Temple in Jerusalem. He decided to challenge the greedy rich who were heartless employers of the poor. From the beginning of his ministry, he became a healer to the sick and disabled.
I recognize that translating a stump speech from 2,000 years ago into a meaningful action plan in 2010 is a tough job. However, abandoning the Jesus agenda is not acceptable to anyone who calls himself/herself a follower of the rabbi from Nazareth … (full text).