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Jesus, tempted to corruption

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Carnival in the Caribbean wears the mask of the overthrow of the old order of things: the “no to creativity, no to fun and freedom, no to the mixing of clan and class, no to badtalk de government, no to overt sexuality; all the noes are drowned in a community drama of ‘down with Mahsa’ up with nehga freedom.” Yes, Carnival is mask parade. In a serious sense, Carnival and its sequel in the Church calendar, ‘Lent’, go together.{{more}} One is a theatre of overthrow; the other is a roundtable on liberation. To overthrow oppression without a strategy and theory of liberation is simply to make room for a tyranny born over again, seven times worse. We must unmask Lent and place it in the Caribbean salvation story.

A STRATEGY CONSULTATION

What we have here is a gathering in a drought rich landscape, fruitless with rockstone. The scriptures talk about Jesus, the Tempter, the Spirit instigator/facilitator, and omit to mention Us explicitly, but we are there too. We are the hungry, unfulfilled people of God, the Carnival players, those of us who are at the centre of the plot, the plan, and the vision of the Galilean Son of God. The objective of this wilderness round table is to outline a roadmap for the salvation mission of Jesus. The young man from Galilee had recently joined the protest movement of John, had been baptized into the moral resistance/repentance/new beginning mobilization of Palestine’s waiting, hoping, poor. They, on one hand, rose up in preparation for the longed for coming of the Day of the Lord. He, on the other hand, was full, both of confidence and of trepidation, for he had received from prayer an overwhelming approval message. ‘Love you to the max, son; pleased with what you just did.’ Jesus, therefore, needed a time of concentrated meditation and contemplation on the way forward for himself, for that population of longing, trusting people, and for the will of God. The Facilitator Spirit arranged the Consultation/Temptation and round table in the wilderness and the devil put several strategy options for Jesus to consider in carrying out God’s salvation mission. (See Matthew 3. 13-4.11, and Luke 3.22-23, and 4. 1-13.) The tempter had us in mind, as he seemed to lead the conversation with the Son of God. Yes, we were there at the strategy session, not as mere onlookers, but at the centre of the confrontation; Palestine’s hoping community, the Caribbean’s carnival revel/rebellers, God’s sin-constructed communities.

JESUS REJECTS PEOPLE AS BREAD SLAVES

Since you are Son of God, hunger and want cannot be part of your experience, or the condition that you endure. That would be a contradiction to the one who created all things. Surely this stone can become food. The consultation was personal and strategic and soteriological. You, Jesus, can live a comfortable, well provided life. Raw material is all around you. Satisfy your needs and wants like a King, (Personal temptation). Then again, You, Jesus, can abolish hunger and want from the lives of these expectant, rising masses. Look into their faces; you can see that they need a regular, nutritious diet, young and old. Be their provider, their Bread Saviour, the one they run to and depend on for hunger relief. You can make bread from anything, Son of God. Bring them to you through Provision. You can’t lose with bread. Make that your Way-In to them, (Strategic option). Jesus, Son of God, salvation and fullness of life is first of all a liberation from daily worry about ‘what to eat, what to wear, where to live, how to keep well and see about the family’s future’. When you free people from these daily troubling concerns, then you have a people who will follow you into the paths of praise and the will of the Father. They will not stray. Salvation begins first with the Kingdom of Mammon, freedom from material distraction, and all other things will fall in line. Son of God, you have the Salvation of the world in your grasp. The Father wants all people to enter a kingdom of plenty and you, Son of God, can turn these stones into plenteous salvation. (Salvation by mammon).

The consultation on Bread was a personal temptation, a strategy proposal, and a salvation vision. The devil knows us well, and he put this understanding of how we think to good use in the round table conversation. That is why I say that we were very much there in the mission retreat.

When Jesus summed up the consultation with: “My sisters and brothers are not just bread hunters.” He was lifting us above our belly consciousness and consumer heavens—a devilish corruption of freedom and liberating salvation. The Galilean saviour takes us beyond the theatre of our Carnival into the theory of and wrestle with the space that grace opens up in the wilderness. From dancing down the oppressor, we reach to unfold the devil appeal and corrupting offerings that sound good. Concentrated meditation must follow the mask parade. Follow the Galilean pathway.

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