Thursday, November 4, 2010

Nobel and the Widow

You all may be aware that this year (2010) the Nobel Peace Prize was given to the professor, literary critic and human rights activist Liu Xiaobo. Liu Xiaobo is Chinese and was arrested on June 23rd 2009, and sentenced in December 25th 209 to 11 years of imprisonment due to his participation in the writing of the Charter 08. He was charged as inciting subversion of state power. What is the Charter 08? It’s a document, a manifest, signed by intellectuals and human rights activists from several levels and professions plus 8 thousand other people, that requests political reform and democratization in China. This year Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for “his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China”, according to the Norway Nobel Committee.

I believe China will open up for democratization and political reform. It won’t be today or tomorrow, but I think it is already happening. Indeed, it’s deceiving to call China a communist or even socialist country nowadays. You can verify this by walking in the streets of China. There are no signs of communism there. Actually, you can see a wild capitalism taking control of the Chinese’s soul, with no prepare for the changes, with no limits, with no ethics. The Chinese try to copy the model used in the west that “appears” to be working, not noticing there was a whole social, historic, religious, philosophic process to be where we are today and not realizing that at the same time we goods for consumption, money to acquire them, and the progress and technology to process them, we are losing our soul, we are losing our relationships, we are losing the world where we live, and we are dying spiritually. Yes, there was and there is consequences to the way we live our lives in the west.

How could we define China? China today is a nationalist capitalistic nation with glimpses of socialism. It is nationalist because that’s something the government got to instill into the population: the pride of being Chinese, to be proud of China as a nation, to be proud of its history and culture. The Chinese, before, were always trying to flee of China to escape an authoritarian regime, leaving to come back no more. Today they leave China for some years, raise a small fortune and come back again to China, because there is no better place to live than China. So, China will open up, and is already opening, to profound changes in the political and governmental picture. Patience is a virtue in China. The great example of what they don’t want to become, in terms of political and economic opening, is Russia where the socialism ended suddenly and caused the country to break and be controlled by the mafia bosses and big corporations. No, China doesn’t want or need this. The opening will happen and, maybe, this will take 10 years, 20 years. It doesn’t matter. We will get there. But this doesn’t mean that we have to quiet ourselves to the injustices. NO! We have to denounce them as to eradicate them. No only denounce them, but we have also to act with action of solidarity and justice in a movement of love and transformation for the different areas of society.

Jesus, once, together with His disciples and a large crowd that followed Him, was going to a town called Nain. As they got close to the city gates they met a procession coming out of the city: the funeral of a young man. He was the only son of a widow. When Jesus saw the young man’s mother he felt compassion for her, told her not to cry, stopped the procession, and told the dead young man to get up. The young man got up and Jesus gave him back to his mother. The crowd praised God declaring that a great prophet appeared in Israel and that God had come to save His people. This passage is recorded in Luke 7:11-17.

The name Nain means beauty, and Nain was really a very beautiful town surrounded by a greenish valley. Maybe that’s the reason why Jesus was going there, to appreciate the natural beauty of that place, for some holidays, to rest for a while, or, maybe, because He knew He was going to have a divine appointment there. Nain, for someone at that moment, had no beauty whatsoever. It was a place of suffering, of loss, of despair. The mother of that young man was a widow, meaning that her husband has died and now she depended on her son for protection, provision, to keep the family line. But he died too. The Bible records that he was her only son. She was, now, totally helpless. How many of us find ourselves in similar situations? Our life should be vivid and beautiful but we find ourselves surrounded only by a story of pain and abandonment. We can’t see anything beautiful around us.

The funeral procession was leaving through the city’s gates. The gates of the cities in those times were very important places. They represented authority because there were where the elders came to relate their decisions to the people. There where the people came to request decisions concerning their causes. See examples in the story of Ruth and Absalom (Ruth 4:1-12; 2 Sa. 15:1-6). But it was through the gates that the dead young man was coming out. Today many of our young find themselves in that same position. They are losing their authority and they are dying to life. They are taking the wrong decisions and ending by losing the authority that should be theirs. They are giving this authority to drugs, alcohol, pornography, promiscuity, materialism, suicide, etc.

Can you notice what caused Jesus to revive that young man? It was not simply because he was dead (everyone dies eventually). It was not because of the crowd or because of the disciples. It was because of the young man’s mother. What was she doing? She was crying. Jesus felt compassion for her because He identified Himself with her. Just like that young man was her only son, Jesus was also God’s only Son. Just like that young man died, Jesus also had to die (for our sins). Just like that mother was crying, God would be crying and would have His heart broken by the loss of His only Son, killed because of the sins of humanity. The NIV says that Jesus’ heart went out to her. You see? Just like that woman, we need more mothers crying for their children, we need more women crying for other people’s children, we need more people manifesting themselves against death and longing for life. We need intercessors to cry for this generation that is dying and being lost. We need more people to denounce the injustices happening against children, against women, against the youth, against the environment, against the minority groups, against those unable to defend themselves.

When Jesus saw that woman crying He was moved with compassion. He stopped the procession (that was a place of authority and he had the authority), He touches the coffin and He calls the young man. And that young man sat up. We know that that was an open coffin (or stretcher) by the fact that that young man sat up. Many people, when they look to their own lives, think there is no hope. Just like a closed casket, they think there is no way to change their life story. But our lives, it doesn’t matter how dead you may feel it is, are like an open casket. This is not the end. It doesn’t have to be the end. It only takes a touch of Jesus and a Word from Him and we can get up and experience a novelty of life flowing through our being.

From the moment we experience the power of life of Jesus we have to sit up. We have to sit up with Him in the spiritual realms (Eph. 2:6); we have to sit at the places of influence; we have to sit at the places of decision; we have to sit at the feet of Jesus (Lk. 8:35; 10:39,42). Jesus knows where we came from, but He is more concerned about where we are going.

Besides sitting up, that young man started to speak. We don’t know what he spoke, but the fact is that he was dead and now he is speaking. This is what this generation needs today. From the moment they receive a touch from Jesus and listen and obey to His words this generation needs to speak up, expose their ideas, and express their convictions and their testimony. Now is not the hour to be quiet, it is the moment to speak, it’s the moment to share their testimony, it’s the moment to defend the just causes (causes that regard life as the most important).

May we be awarded with spiritual prizes for our non-violent fight for the human rights, for the right to life, for the right to express our convictions for peace and may we be able to identify ourselves with Jesus to the point of calling His attention and may His compassion stop the funeral processions in our lives and around us and generate life and changes in the present state of things. It doesn’t matter if we have a new elected president or not to rule our country.

No comments: