When you are making important decisions that will have consequences for the future of your entourage, your colleagues, or your company, you should always bear the Beatitudes in mind. They give a healthier viewpoint than the one I can get from my plant, my office, my car, or from a plane, jumping from one hot spot to the next. The poem reminds me of my true identity, very different from the one the society gives me or believes I have : the identity of an incomplete human being, full of contradictions, fragile when not protected by my social armor, inclined to do bad more often than good, sensitive to external influences, and often preferring flattery to truth. The poem tells me : look, this is what you should be, poor in mind when you are proud, rude, authoritarian, and sure of yourself ; mournful when afflicted ; humble before your destiny and the grave the awaits you. This is what I should be : merciful, peaceful, and pure in heart.
It is difficult indeed to accept to forget my social role and reveal the chinks in my armor. Apart from Emperor Constantine the Great at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge, nobody has really won a battle with humility. Modern civilization is, most of the time, a lesson on how to succeed without the values of self-containment. Ambition has always been the engine behind the mundane progress of mankind. Today, economic difficulties are pilling up. Most of them have been generated by excesses fo greed and self-conceit of too many people in too many countries at too many levels of society. From heads of state down to bankers, traders, managers, and investors, a wind of greed has wiped out all the limits of reason. « Yes, we can » became a leitmotif long before being an electoral slogan : maybe the most pretentious in the history of manking.
It is our responsibility to transmit Jesus’s teachings and message in such a way as to convince our counterparts that we have a unique message of hope. We are not requested to demonstrate the superiority of the Christian faith but, more simply, to prepare the minds of our listeners for the action of the Spirit of God. It was the power of the Holy Spirit that converted Cornelius and the Ethiopian eunuch, not Peter or Philip. But the Spirit came down only after they had received correct teaching from Jesus’s followers. Our role is to let the message be known to all non believers. First came the founding scriptures, then the correct interpretation of the texts (the Eunuch himself asked Philip for an explanation). It is the only way to abide by the commandment of Jesus to proclaim the Gospel to the entire planet, not withstanding the importance or credibility of other faiths.
John’s « lamb of God » term, omnipresent in Revelation, is used in the Gospel as a source of inspiration and as a fruitful allegory. The reference to the sacrificed animal is key to the understanding of John’s message. On the other hand, the reference to the shepherd is also typical of John. The shepherd on one side and the lamb on the other side are the two poles of John’s rhetoric, where Jesus-God is both a guide and a victim. Hence man is a sinner and a son of Jesus-God who crucifies his Father while worshipping him. The duality of God faces and explains the duality of man and their reuniting as one.
John the Baptist, as a pure hero, passed away in an absurd death, his destiny accomplished. I like to believe he died happy, having reached the aim of his life.
Some nights, when feelings of despair or powerlessness trouble me, the memory of this great man helps me to overcome disturbing thoughts and nourishes me with hope.
The Lord’s Prayer conditions the redemption of y sins to my forgiveness of my neighbors’ offenses against me. God’s miracles are conditioned by my own miracles. Should I refuse to forgive my neighbor, my own redemption is at stake and the prayer becomes worthless.
I remember a former vice prime minister of the Netherlands who gave a far-seeing definition of consumerism : « To buy useless goods to impress people you don’t love. »