Matthew Commentary 03

The funny thing about reading spiritual works such as the Bible, is that you interpret different meanings and see different significances at different times.

One of the most remarkable things that Jesus said was that people should not only not-seek-vengeance for wrongs committed against them, but they should help the transgressor transgress even more! In other words, if you’re slapped on one cheek, provide your other cheek for ease-of-slapping as well. If someone demands your shirt, well give him your coat too. The first time I read that, I thought wow, this guy really must be of a godly nature, that’s some next-level forgiveness right there. He then goes on to say I should not only help these people, but I should LOVE them!? What!?

I thought his standards were impossibly high at this point. I thought I could never reach that level of zen. I figured Christianity wasn’t for me since I just couldn’t maintain that level of committed selflessness. It didn’t help that I believed the world to be a dark place filled with cutthroats wanting nothing more than to lie, cheat, and steal. I’d be left with nothing, I’d be taken advantage of to no end! When reading Matthew, I’d often just stick to the Sermon on the Mount part and ignore the miracle-related magic-stuff — “that’s just old-timey nonsense that’s not relevant today”, I’d think, “just give me the humanistic stuff and leave out the spiritual mumbo-jumbo”.

Well, can you really separate the two? From a physical-world perspective, it kind of makes sense to put up barriers and defend what you have. Yet from a spiritual-world perspective, there’s literally nothing to defend — what we’re experiencing is more dreamlike than actuality. If you want the shirt I’m wearing, sure, it’s not mine to begin with, I didn’t make it, God did and He can simply provide another — here, might as well take my coat as I didn’t make that either. And it turns out, people aren’t waiting in line to slap me — but if they did, sure go-ahead bro, I’ve got two cheeks ya know! It’s not my body, I’m just borrowing it for the time being.

So from a spiritual perspective, I can see how much easier it is to follow the teachings of Jesus. Trying to fit infinite love, selflessness, and unyielding forgiveness within a physical framework is an uphill battle. “I have to survive and earn my way through this world, everything I obtain belongs to me, and I work hard for it.” But to see the world as God’s creation, and myself as an invited guest provided everything I require upon entering, then I’m not entitled to anything, I’m just a guest same as the next guy — I don’t own this seat I’m sitting on nor anything else for that matter, it’s all God’s stuff.

From a spiritual perspective, I’m off the hook, God provides for me — end of story. Anything I wish, I need faith but the size of a mustard seed for it to manifest. How can you not love such a giving host? And being that everything is a creation of this host, how can you not love thy fellow guests? When I interact with others, I’m interacting with God’s creations — therefore, the way in which I treat others is the way in which I treat God himself, so how could I be anything but patient and respectful? And as Jesus said, love for God and neighbor are the great commandments upon which all others depend.

Sure you can try to live a life sans-spirituality — but why, when it’s so much easier the other way? That’s why Jesus seemed to be so frustrated by the end, when he was rebuking that entire generation for their faithlessness. If they’d only believe in the goodness of life, everything would work out, people would experience fulfillment, they’d be without illness, and everyone would get along. But no, the people refused to cooperate, obstinate in their pessimism and dislike for each other. So devoted they were to the physical life, that they murdered the guy for simply offering a better way.

It’s like his dad threw this great party called Earth and there were all these special activities planned for everyone’s amusement — but people started wandering off doing their own thing, smokin’ in the bathroom, pourin’ whiskey in the punch, kickin’ over potted plants, vandalizin’ the house, startin’ fights — and Jesus is trying to tell everyone to chill out, that his dad went to a lot of trouble for them, and they’ll have a much better time if they behave respectfully and get along. Well the crowd wasn’t havin’ it, they dumped a bowl of dip all over his head and threw that Poindexter in the pool.

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And the son of man saith unto his Father: Lord, take me instead. Let there be peace on Earth. Let my suffering pay the price for man’s sin. By my sacrifice may others know everlasting joy.

And the Lord saith unto His only begotten son: So be it. And the deed was done, blood paid for the sins of man.

But from his lofty seat the son wept. For in their minds men still hate. A gift given, but refused. Mankind chose anger over love. For instead of aiding, man abused. Instead of forgiving, man despised. Instead of generosity, man coveted. Instead of hoping, man despaired.

And the Lord saith unto His son: Why do thee criest so?

And the son saith: Lord, was my sacrifice in vain? Why does man reject my sacred gift?

And the Lord saith unto His son: A gift so given from the heart can only be received by the heart. The mind of man is confounded by Earthly sights and sounds. To appreciate this present, man must accept with his heart. Those that seek, shall find.

And the son saith: As ages pass how is it man can come to know my gift?

And the Lord saith unto His son: It shall be retold in every age, but understood only by the pure of heart. Only when the mind is still can the heart hear. To appreciate a gift such as yours, man must prepare himself to receive it, only then can joy come to reside.

And the son saith to his Father who art in Heaven: Is there nothing that can be done for the sake of those now suffering?

And the Lord saith unto His son: A man cannot receive what he cannot comprehend. Joy is a state beyond the ways of the world. Only through the spirit can he come to know such a state. Yours was a gift given to the soul. Man must see past his mortal layer to know everlasting joy.

And the son saith: Yet why is it so difficult to see? Can I not shout from the Heavens for man to awaken from his nightmare?

And the Lord saith unto His son: A flower cannot bloom while still in seed-form. Sturdy roots and ample stem must grow, lest the flower fall from its own weight. And so man must be prepared to receive your divine gift of everlasting love. In every age heralds tell of the path — those ready to receive proceed upon it.

And the son saith: But why must man linger so long in darkness if the light of the heavens shines so brightly?

And the Lord saith unto His son: What may appear as dirt and darkness is the sprouting of a holy spirit. See not the mud but the moistened seed. Look not to the withering leaves but those that thrive. Think not of the growing-pains but the potential. Labor may appear as pain, but know it to be the foundation of life, the instrument of joy.

And the son saith: By such words I have come to understand your plan. I see the garden you so planted upon Earth. I know now my sacrifice is a gift that shall bear its fruit — for each must bloom when the time is right, and by Heaven’s light prosper.

Happy Unions

An excerpt from the fictional tales of The Wandering Monk.

To the religious amongst us I ask: are we not spirit wrapped in flesh? Then is marriage not the union of two souls? Then what is the religious controversy over same-gender marriage?

Those with a religious perspective cannot on one hand esteem the spirit and on the other reject it. If anything, same-gender marriage shows the power of spirit over flesh, that despite physical and social obstacles, two souls are willing to struggle to live as one.

The travesty therefore, is not this sacred union, but the divisive disgust shown toward fellow beings. And for what reason? To express smug satisfaction while declaring oneself more righteous than his neighbor?

If God has issue, let Him judge. To condemn others for mutual acts of love is inhumane. It is to invalidate their human experience. We are on Earth for but a short while, let us endeavor to support one another’s aspirations, not destroy them.

As was said: Judge not, lest you be judged by the same standard — a hypocrite is one that judges the imperfections of others while he himself falls short of perfection.

As was also said: I was hungry and you gave me no food. I was thirsty and you gave me no drink. I was a stranger and you gave me no welcome. I was without even clothes and you gave me nothing. I was sick and you gave me no care. I was imprisoned and you gave me no solace. Then they will say, Lord, when did we see you hungry, thirsty, as a stranger, unclothed, sick, or imprisoned? Then He will answer them, saying: Truly I say to you, inasmuch as you gave not to the least of my brethren, you gave not to me. And these hard-hearted will go into everlasting punishment while the givers go into eternal life.

Blessed are the Jerks

How to be a jerk according to Jesus:
(as based on his sermon on the mount)

Be unkind, unforgiving, and uncooperative.
Harass those seeking harmony.
Contribute to a noxious atmosphere.
Get angry at, and insult, those that offend you.
Follow your most primal urges.
Discard relationships when convenient.
Make promises you cannot fulfill.
When attacked, retaliate.
When asked for something, hold it tightly.
Hate your enemies and condemn them.

When you are charitable, let the world know.
Exclaim your religiosity before others.
Make your prayers vain and hollow.
Lack appreciation and compassion.
Display your pious hardships for others to admire.
Focus on money, possessions, and power.
Fret about getting your needs met.

Criticize the imperfections of others.
Share what you know even when inappropriate.
Feel entitled to receive the best treatment.
Follow those that deceive and incite turmoil.
Ignore what is wise.

Deceit of the Cloth

The enemy of Jesus was not the devil, but the religious establishment of his day. Jesus could handle temptation and the devil. The target of his ire, and those that sought his destruction, were those of the religious hierarchy. By them, he was condemned and turned over to the government for execution.

And through his death, he demonstrates that those in power sacrifice the innocent to serve themselves, not God. He openly attacked those that used God’s name to fulfill selfish ends, the hypocrites, those that offer themselves up for praise and worship by others.

But what man has right to stand before others claiming to speak for God? None, as man cannot reach God through man. And to prove this point, even his body was defiled and disgraced lest there be any doubt that what is flesh should not be worshiped.

Before crucifixion, Jesus demonstrated God’s love for man, showing that life is for living, that sickness and suffering are not the point of this world, but rather communing with others in celebration, partaking in merriment without judgement, even with those considered unworthy by society’s standards.

Jesus exposed the temples to be not houses of God, but of deceit, maintained by ravenous wolves. The doorway to God’s temple is birth, life is the service, and every man a parishioner. The roof is the very sky, all those under brethren, and all within sacred.

Devilish Deeds

An excerpt from the fictional tales of The Modern Day Devil.

In what way would the devil manifest within the modern day? Utilizing fear and greed, he would likely sway those in positions of influence to confound mankind, maintaining a state of confusion so as to keep humanity from knowing God.

As God is the creator of all things, mankind’s ultimate goal is the realization of this oneness. The devil on the other hand, has the role of spreading lies and misinformation, keeping mankind in constant conflict and away from perfection, away from God.

Through prominent voices the devil would attempt to create distinctions amongst the whole. The discourse of the day would consist of defining groups, fighting “others”, persecuting the weak, denouncing cooperation, and the vilification of giving — all signs of the devil’s handiwork.

Yet we cannot hate anything lest we hate that which creates everything. None reach that perfect state unless we all do. To fight the devil therefore, we must give all we have to the cause of a united whole, we must defend the weak and powerless while dismantling differences.

The devil makes what is righteous appear evil and what is corrupt appear good, therefore we must see through the facade of lies. We must denounce the separation of mankind into easily exploitable portions — we must support, in both word and deed, compassion and cooperation amongst all Creation.

Created Equal

An excerpt from the fictional tales of Demagogue and Fugue

Within the founding document of this nation, it is declared that all men are created equal. But in these darkening times, we the people must decide whether we hold this truth to be self-evident — or whether we will abandon this founding principle.

If we are truly a nation born of Christian values, then we are to love one another, we are to forgive as we are forgiven, and we are to appreciate that the fruits of this earth are gifts to all, and as they are given freely to us, we are to give to any who ask.

If we do not love and care for each born of this world, if we persecute instead of forgive, if we treat this world as our personal possession, if we do not give to those who ask, then we do not adhere to the founding beliefs of this nation.

Those that abandon these principles head down a dark path, a path trodden by those lacking in the spirit of goodwill towards men, those exploiting the kindness of others, those blaming the least among us while taking freely for themselves.

But I come not to judge, only forgive. And I implore those still believing in these lofty ideals-of-old to bind as one, so that from this present darkness, we as a nation shall not sink into the abyss, but rise — rise to heights from which our brightness casts light upon the entire world, bringing with it true hope, true freedom, true democracy — creating a nation of the people, by the people, for the people.