Features — 11 October 2013

OF LENT AND TEN…

(This column was first published in the Amandala issue of Friday, March 17, 1995)

As Lent is once again observed, one cannot but notice the surfeit of churches that abound in this city of 70,000 people: the Catholic Church; the Anglican Church; the Methodist Church (American and English); the Episcopalian Church; the Adventist Church; the Mormon Church; the Salvation Army; the Mennonite (Zoe) Church; the Jehovah Church; the Buddhists (Saki Gaki); the Islamic Temple (Sunni or Shiite?); the Gospel Chapel; the Grace Chapel; The City Mission; the Bethel Assembly; the Turner Church; the Central Assembly of God; the Calvary Temple; the Hindu Temple; La Iglesia de Dios de la Profecía; Iglesias de Dios Pentecostes de Belice (Donde es la oficina central?); and their branches.

All of the above, except three, are of the Christian tradition, and all except four preach the Canonised Bible, the history of the Jews, both the old of Moses and the new of Jesus the Christ.

Of the many statements the latter made in His public life, one of the most intriguing was, “Do not think that I have come to do away with the Law of Moses and the teachings of the Prophets. I have not come to do away with them, but to make their teachings come true…”The statement leads one to ponder the Mosaic Commandments, tenets cemented in the psyche of Western man.

Worship no God but Me…

Do not make for yourselves images of anything in Heaven or on Earth or in the water under the Earth… I saw that you had already disobeyed the command that the Lord your God had given you, and had sinned against Him by making yourselves a golden idol in the form of a bull…Now where did slaves get all this gold?

Do not use My name for evil purposes…once you had the Bible and I the land; now you have the land, and I the Bible…

Observe the Sabbath and keep it holy…one is Saturday; one is Sunday… so the Pharisees said to Jesus, “Look, it is against our law for Your disciples to do that on the Sabbath. “Jesus answered, “Have you not heard what David did that time when he needed something to eat? David ate the bread from the House of God and even gave it to his men… The Sabbath was made for the good of man; man was not made for the Sabbath…”

Do not commit murder… Moses saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his brethren. So he looked this way and that. When he saw that there was no one around, he struck down the Egyptian and threw him in the sand… Are you intending to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?

You shall not steal…and shall be that when you go you will not go empty-handed…but every woman shall ask of her neighbor and the woman who lives in her house, articles of silver and gold and clothing, and you will put them on your sons and daughters, thus you will plunder the Egyptians…

Honour your father and mother…and Pharaoh’s daughter named him Moses and said, “Because I drew him out of the water.”

You shall not covet… when the Lord your God enlarged your territory, as He has promised…then He will drive out all those nations as you advance and you will occupy the land belonging to nations greater and more powerful than you…

You will not bear false witness against your neighbor (… this is the ordinance of the Passover; no foreigner is to eat of it…)

The more things change, the more they remain the same, don’t they? History is written by the winner. Paul’s power won over Christ’s love and compassion, didn’t it? For all that these rules seem to have accomplished nothing, present man still… worships his ego, rationalizes his stealing in the name of derivatives, hides his covetousness in the name of progress and of the bank, pursues power and wealth at the cost of his soul and conscience, sees in his neighbor the potential for exploitation, does not understand that you do not make peace with the weapons of war, legislates slavery in the name of God “…And now I give you a new Commandment…love one another as I have loved you, so you must love one another…” Would that the reality of our lives and of our leaders mirrored this truth.

Shalom.

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