VOICE ON THE MOUNT!

(Modern-Day Reporter Series)

                   Nazarene Rabbi preaches to thousands on

                  Mount; calls for  mercy , compassion &

                  forgiveness ; chooses 12 followers!

  

Matthew: 4:15-16: “ In the land of Zabulon, and the land of  Nepthalim (near Capernaum) by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles ; the people which sat in darkness saw a great light…” 

 

Capernaum, Judea (31 a.d.) – Reporter:  Bill Byrnes                                                      

Controversial young Rabbi, Jesus of Nazareth,  added to his already  burgeoning reputation yesterday, when he preached to thousands atop a small Mount, on the Northern edge of the Sea of Galilee.

Though some calling themselves  his friends  said this was  the first official act of his ministry, this native of Nazareth has already established quite a reputation among Judeans – many of whom already refer to him as the “Messiah” – the savior –  whose  coming has been foretold for many centuries in  Jewish religious scriptures .  Interestingly enough, Jesus has never referred to himself as the messiah, but, in the past several months, he has been credited with healings that have been nothing short of miraculous, and all of them having several witnesses!  All manner of diverse diseases including leprosy; great fevers, afflictions from birth, and the expulsion of evil spirits were healed!

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“All manner of diseases were healed–including leprosy!

Just a few days ago, Jesus chose twelve men to be his “Apostles”–or Followers. These men , reportedly , have forsaken all their worldly possessions to be among the chosen. I’m  awaiting verification of all their  identities before mentioning any of them.          It was  an  incredible scene. He stood on a small rise, above the people, who were stretched out on three sides of the surrounding terrain, almost as far as the eye could see. They came from all over : Galilee, Decapolis, Jerusalem, and many other areas of Judea, and  beyond Jordan. There was no limit  to age or gender. There were many families , and  even young children, normally rambunctious , seemed to pay attention  when he spoke– it was the most incredible presentation ever witnessed by this reporter!  His voice was not the powerful, booming instrument shown by great orators of the past; but it was steady and unwavering–soothing and penetrating when he wanted to emphasize key points.

TissotBeatitudes

Blessed are the poor in spirit  , for their’s is the Kingdom of Heaven . Blessed are they who mourn for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek,-  for they shall inherit the Earth!”

But the most amazing thing about his presentation was his eyes — — at any given time, he looked directly into everyone’s  eyes — AT THE SAME TIME!  I discovered this by circulating among the crowd, talking with them during his pauses. One young mother, choking – up, almost sobbing, said, “The way he looks into my eyes– — comforts me and my children greatly.” Her gaze never left him while she answered.  A man 20-30 ft.  down from her  said, ”The way his eyes look into mine when he speaks;  I’ve never felt so content.  And my children, usually very playful, are quite still, as if they have just finished eating and are ready for sleep. But the way they’re staring at Jesus , they must understand him too!  As I moved among the masses, the responses were the same. And when I sat  and listened, I was affected as much as anyone!

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness:  for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”

          When I first started hearing stories of the child prodigy from Nazareth — I just mentally filed them away for future reference. But, now….now I knew  there had to be some truth to  them. Suddenly, I could form a mental picture of the 12-year old boy sitting in the temple in Jerusalem, asking questions and discussing issues of faith with the most educated of clerics, who were spellbound with the lad’s answers to their questions. All of this happened while his parents (not knowing their son’s whereabouts) frantically searched for him  for 3 days!

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They were amazed with the boy’s answers!

The most impact occurred during the last three of his “blessings”,  “Blessed are the pure in heart – for they shall see God! Blessed are the peacemakers–for they shall be called the children of God ! Blessed are they who suffer persecution for justice’s sake, for their’s is the kingdom of Heaven! “  With the last few words, it was if a very short episode of collective , brief sobbing was heard  throughout the entire crowd! I must admit, I was not immune to being a little choked-up!

After this, he spoke at great length regarding a new purpose for the laws governing his people. No one in the crowd, myself included, had any doubts that this man was, indeed, the long awaited messiah! But, he still never referred to himself by that name. He came pretty close to it when answering criticisms from some skeptics in the crowd who accused him of trying to destroy the laws of their ancestors. Matthew: 5;17: “Think not that I have come to destroy the law, or the prophets. I have not come to destroy them, but to FULFILL them.”   So, at the least, Jesus  gave himself a very special “raison  d’etre ”.

Certainly, everyone leaving the event realized  that they were at a very special happening. The blessings bestowed by Jesus were termed “Beatitudes”. Considering that the word comes from the Latin  “beatus” , meaning “blissful” or “fortunate”  This reporter can honestly say that I was very “fortunate” for having drawn this assignment.

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* See Note Below*

(One year later –   32 a.d.) 

Reporter’s post-script:   After  posting the above article my editor  gave me a royal chewing-out for losing objectivity, and removed me from any assignments covering Jesus. This morning, I was exonerated! No sooner had I gone to my desk, than he came over saying:  “Hey, Byrnes – don’t hang up your coat! You’re back on with your messiah.”  I stammered, “Great–but what happened?” Then, I added facetiously,  ”I thought I wasn’t objective enough?”

“ Yeah,  but now, we’ve got a whole new ball-game– AND I want you on it– — Now!”

As  I started gathering all my necessities  he added: “During last night’s storm out on the lake– — several witnesses saw your messiah  rescue his followers —  BY  WALKING  ON THE WATER!”

“No complaints from me, boss”.  I was all smiles and as I exited the office, my smiles turned into almost giddy chuckling when I confronted this question: have I gained much more than the greatest story ever—have I found GOD—alive, well, and walking around Judea? In my gut—I knew the answer!

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ChristianCapitalism–TheOnlyAnswer!

By Bill Byrnes

“ Friends–it’s been said–that MONEY is the root of all evil. Well, let me tell you–that is WRONG! Money itself, is not the root of all evil–it’s the LACK
of money. That IS the root of all evil.” Pastor Frederich Eikerenkoetter- a.k.a. “The Reverend Ike”; circa 1975-1978
The title sounds good–but–what is Christian Capitalism? There is no set group of principles, certainly, no dogmas here!
Christian Capitalism is NOT Socialism—in any way shape or form, and certainly, it has nothing to do with Communism!
However, it is NOT any type of endorsement for the current system of corporate greed–and–face it–when you look at income distribution over the last 40 years–how could you possibly deny the existence of greed that permeates our corporate domain?
Yes, there are several different definitions of Christian Capitalism. It all depends on who you’re talking with. Extreme Conservatives might say it’s another form of (God forbid-lol) Communism; extreme Liberals might add that it’s just another way of pushing the envelope away from inevitable forms of income sharing. My contention: Christian Capitalism is what God had in mind all along!
First, let’s look at the broad brush-strokes of this picture. After God gave Noah the 3rd Dispensation (beginning w/Genesis:8 : 20-21) , it was clear that God would allow Governments to take his place and rule mankind. To me, the question then becomes how wealth should be distributed. If God would no longer rule man, what would be the most efficient way of getting that job accomplished? If all wealth belongs to our creator, and he wanted it shared with all humans—how could that be accomplished in a fair and equitable manner? As usual—the answer lies in the Bible (where else?).
There are no verses that state, outright, that capitalism is preferred. However, there are mentions in the New Testament that definitely lead
the reader to that conclusion. Example: in Luke: 19:11-27– the Parable of the Ten Pounds; whereas Jesus was using a metaphor to explain the Kingdom of Heaven, I find his wording quite interesting.
Luke: 19:26: “For I say unto you, that every one that hath, shalm that hath not, evl be given; and from hien that he hath shall be taken away from him.”( READ the entire parable!)
I realize that this verse could easily be interpreted by Conservatives who would say that it points to wealth being controlled by those who know what to do with it, namely, people at the top of the income “pyramid”. However, (assuming that you have read the entire parable) I contend that, really, Jesus was referring to giving wealth to the other servants–people at the bottom of the income level. What you have, then, is an affirmation of a “pure” form of capitalism – where people at the “bottom” receive some measure of wealth, and use it to build more wealth.
Think about this, then review the thoughts expressed by Pope Francis (Nov.,2013) He said, “That’s what does harm: greed in any relationship with money…having more, having more, having more. It leads you to idolatry, it destroys your relationship with others. It’s not the money itself – but the attitude – what we call greed. Then the greed makes you sick because it makes you think of everything in terms of money…that destroys you…”.
And, in the end, greed is the instrument of idolatry because it goes along a path contrary to God has done for us. St. Paul tells us that Jesus Christ, who was rich, made himself poor to enrich us. That is the path of God: humility, to lower oneself in order to serve. Greed, on the other hand, takes us on a contrary path: you – a poor human – make yourself God for vanity’s sake. It is idolatry! ….And all the goods that we have, the Lord gives them to us to advance the world – to advance humanity – to help, to help others. …Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of only possessions.”
What makes more sense from a logistical standpoint than to have men distribute God’s wealth to other men? And, when you look at the early history of Capitalism – it appears that the system was working fairly well. Then enter greed…with the sweat-shops and robber-barons and other “twists and turns” that began changing the system into one motivated by greed, and not humility – others were exploited – NOT served!
So, it appears the opening quote from Reverend Ike, though laughable at first hearing, was only a “groundbreaker” for the remarks of a Pope approximately 40 years in the future! Remember…I’m not stating that the rich should give us anything; heck, we just want to earn our pay. And, we feel that we are already earning it – so please, just pay us!!

Proverbs:22:16