Oded Balilty / AP
This is in an Israeli Museum, whose disclaimer is that it was just part of a loan from another museum in another part of the world. Of course, that rather singular piece may well have been the purpose of getting a loan of lots of stuff from that other museum. It’s surely not a mistake, like they didn’t know about it. There have been some protests.
But let’s think about this. Whatever of some of Jesus’ followers throughout the centuries, Jesus, at the very least, for Jews, is a Jewish good guy, right? Spectacularly truthful, spectacularly good and kind, spectacularly forgiving, spectacularly in-your-face in the correction of hypocrites while NOT being a hypocrite Himself.
So, I don’t think the artist has anything against Jesus. I do think that there is a protest about the hypocrisy of some individuals who call themselves Catholic or Christian for that matter. Indeed, there are those like Martin Luther, whose anti-Jewish ideology was arguably as bad or worse than that of Hitler. For Luther to use the Cross to smack down Jews is the ultimate hypocrisy. I agree.
However, I think that using Jesus Himself, who is innocent of the hypocrisy, as the object of one’s scorn, is to take on the very hypocrisy that one says one despises.
So, let’s do a test – and mind you, while I’m a Catholic priest I am also Jewish – what if the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem and say, the one is Washington, D.C., were to transform their museums and paint all pictures of victims as Ronald McDonald, because, after all, they were innocent and Jewish, like Jesus, right? I would be outraged if anyone did that. That would be horrible. A travesty. Sooo very disrespectful. Uggh. So, what about the treatment of the Jewish good guy, Jesus, tortured to death by the Romans because of…. wait for it… because of the sins of us all, from Adam until the last man is conceived?
As I say, those who take on the hypocrisy of the hypocrites are as hypocritical as those they despise as hypocrites. How about leaving the innocent out of it, and offering a critique of those who are hypocrites? I have. I do. At risk to myself, mind you. And with great effect, mind you. How is that? Because I say all the time that I am a repentant hypocrite, just another of all of us. Without Jesus, I myself am just another hypocrite. Hypocrites, repentant or not, know other hypocrites.
Having said all that, what’s going on? I think the artist and museum and whoever agrees with such blasphemy in all laughter and high five-ing BUT – unbeknownst to themselves, are looking for deeper realities in the followers of Jesus. They have already seen the hypocrites and dismissed them. Great. But they want to test and push and see if anyone anywhere has anything of Jesus about them. Whether they realize it or not, they want to see all the love and truth and goodness and truth and kindness and truth and forgiveness and truth that our Lord has to offer also in His followers. They are fascinated by Him, drawn in by Him, want with all their hearts and souls and minds and with all the strength they want to know if Jesus is the One, the only One, the Messiah, the Suffering Servant, the Divine Son of God coming into the world to take away our sins by standing in our place, the Innocent of the guilty, so that He might have the right in justice to have mercy on us. And we all – all of us – obliged. We all pushed Him right to death.
Here’s the deal:
- All people on earth have the right – the absolute right, mind you – to have the fullness of the love and truth of Jesus proclaimed and demonstrated to them, for, after all, Jesus did redeem all of us and wants that we be saved.
- If we do not witness, people are absolutely going to push and shove, baiting, until they find that it’s all true, that Jesus lives and is with His true followers who are NOT hypocrites. But push and shove they will.
- How can we blame anyone for such “art” when at the same time we are not witnessing to Jesus as we should and as we are indeed able by Jesus’ grace… should we choose to take that up and live as Jesus’ good friends.
So, does this artwork make me angry? No. I am saddened by it, saddened that there are those who do not know His love and His truth and His goodness and His kindness, noticing that we need salvation so much as not to see the Savior Himself. What I am angry about is that there are those who are in a position to witness widely but choose not to present the truth, but rather only political correctness. If you want to know what the real blasphemy is, that’s it, right there. Do you think Jesus is upset with the Ronald McDonald crucified thing in Israel? I think rather that He is angry that some of His own priests and bishops are total F***-ups. What? Not nice of me? Here’s what’s not nice, if you’ve forgotten:
When I published the following linked rant, I thought surely I would be silenced and worse. But, no, that didn’t happen. It’s hard to argue against the truth.
Update: Martin Luther: “We are at fault in not slaying the Jews.” The Holy See: “Let’s celebrate his life!” J’accuse!
Permit me to put up the video I made some ten years ago in Jerusalem. Don’t think I don’t know. Don’t think I don’t care.