I woke up last night to the sound of laughing and realized I’d fallen asleep with the TV on. I recognized Stephen Colbert's voice but had to fumble around for my glasses to see who his guest was. Incredible! It was Jesus, in his robe and sandals, and there it was winter in New York City. His nose was bigger than I thought, his skin a lot darker, and his eyes more penetrating than I’d imagined. It was like light came out instead of going into them.
Stephen remarked about the rise of anti-Semitic violence and Jesus stared into his eyes, nodding his head while Colbert ticked off the recent cities: Pittsburgh, Poway, Jersey City, Brooklyn, Boston, Monsey, Los Angeles, Chicago. Jesus piped in, "When will it sink in? I'm a Jew--always have been, always will be. Jewish to the bone."
"Why this upsurge in violence?" Colbert asked.
"People's lives are in turmoil and they want someone to blame. They tune into news stations that tell them who's right and who's wrong and eventually they stop thinking on their own. They forget their essential values—they forget about the Golden Rule, and how to be neighborly."
"You think it's that easy?" asks Colbert, shifting to upright in his chair.
“Nothing’s that easy,” said Jesus. “The problems are complex, but you have to figure out how to be kind to each other before you will ever solve them”
"Do you think religion itself is responsible for some of the violence?"
"Sure! Religion is supposed to open the mind, not close the mind," he said, moving to the edge of his seat. "Every religion should have one goal: open the eyes to see that all of creation is sacred--and I mean ALL-- all people holy, all creatures holy, all this planet holy, all the rivers and seas, all the forests and trees, all the air, holy--everything we see is sacred. And if a religion is not saying that, it's part of the problem."
Jesus pointed at Colbert with his long, slim index finger as he listed the holy things, his sandaled feet peeking out from under his weathered robe. Colbert looked like a third-grader learning something new and astonishing, his jaw hanging open, his eyes wide and round as fresh-baked pies.
“Wow! Anything else we’re getting wrong?” Colbert asked.
“Plenty, and this show isn’t long enough to get into them all, but I’ll mention a few,” said Jesus, holding up three fingers on his left hand. “One, I did not come here to save anyone. Nobody needs saving,” he said, tapping one index finger with another.
“Two, you are not born sinners—there is no such thing—and three, you are creating your own lives. There’s no Geppetto up there pulling strings. With your thoughts and your words, you make your world.”
“Well that’s pretty deep for a practicing Catholic,” said Colbert. “I don’t quite know what to make of that.”
“This is the world to be concerned with, not some other world or afterlife. This right here should be the focus of your attention: how you treat the people here, how you care for life on Earth. There is no other kingdom to be concerned with. This is it.”
"I almost hate to ask this," said Colbert, changing the subject. "But what did you think about the impeachment trial?”
"Cowardice comes to mind," said Jesus, crossing one long leg over the other and leaning in. "Congress was like a mirror to the nation. Right before our eyes, people betrayed values they formerly espoused. It’s going on everywhere in this country. Values are disintegrating because they’re not being lived.”
"What should we do?" asks Colbert.
"Stop saying ‘we’ and keep it personal," said Jesus. "Move in accordance with your values. Say what you believe in short, kind sentences. Encourage others to do the same. Ask people you're with how they feel, what brings them joy, what gives them hope. Good questions lead to good faith in relationships. Ask more, relate more," said Jesus smiling as he turned to the audience. “Light up the world you’re in!”
The camera cuts to Colbert who announces a commercial break: “And we’ll be right back to hear some closing thoughts from our guest tonight, ladies and gentlemen, the Jewish prophet Jesus of Nazareth. Stay tuned...”
They were laughing about something when they returned from the break, Jesus stretched out in his chair, his lanky legs covered by his tunic, his feet now hidden under the desk.
“OK,” Stephen says, “Let me see if I got this right. There’s no bearded guy up there on a cloud. That God we talk about is the creation all around us?
“Think of that God as a verb, not a noun. Creation Unfolding---creation that you and I are part of, enmeshed in. We are in the Cosmos and the Cosmos is in us. All one. We are one with ALL THAT IS, capital letters.”
Colbert frowns. "I should be happy about this, right?"
"Yes! We are here for joy! That is all we should feel. To be on Earth, as humans, to be sensing all this beauty---to be co-creators of it---it's like your Persian poet Rumi said, "The eyes are here for seeing, but the soul is here for its own joy."
Jesus continues, looking directly into the camera again. "You are here for joy. I repeat, your mission is joy. Joy and human kindness. Over and out.”
"Oh my, that's a whole new idea," Colbert says, looking into the camera at his listening audience. "And lucky for you, my guest tomorrow is Neil deGrasse Tyson, one smart astrophysicist who can help you fill in the blanks if you have any more questions about the unfolding cosmos."
The camera zooms in so closely on Jesus I can see the scar on his forehead. He's smiling now and looking directly into the lens. His Middle Eastern face is brown and creased and his eyes are the color of sycamore bark. "Stop seeking," he said, mouthing it out slowly and signing it with his hands. "This is it!" he announces, his fingers pointing up, down and in every direction. "I'm IT, you're IT, the planet is IT—all God, all here and now, all unfolding every second in everyone."
"Everyone!" he shouts as he lifts up off his chair and heads toward the awe-stricken audience. A camera follows him from behind and another tracks him from the side. Jesus is on a roll. "Everyone! Repeat after me: EVERYONE!" he shouts, and the crowd echoes back, "Everyone!"
"Republicans and Democrats, Everyone!" he says, his hand at his ear, waiting for their response.
"Republicans and democrats, Everyone!" they shout.
"Black, brown, white, all tribes, all colors, everyone!" he calls out.
"Black, brown, white, all tribes, all colors, everyone!" they repeat.
“Refugees from everywhere, everyone!” he shouts.
“Refugees from everywhere, everyone!” they respond.
“LGBT brothers and sisters, everyone!” he shouts out.
“LGBT brothers and sisters, everyone!” they call back.
The litany goes on...women from all nations, silenced women, abused women, prisoners, children, Jews, Muslims…The crowd and Jesus are one mind, one voice.
Colbert is transported. His time is up, he calls for a commercial. The cameras return to the audience. The crowd is on their feet, tears of amazement flying everywhere. Echoes of "Everyone, everyone!" reverberate around the room.
Jesus holds up his hand. The crowd quiets.
"Never think for a minute you're not part of this, and never exclude anyone," Jesus says, almost in a whisper. He has their total attention.
"This is what Creation Unfolding feels like. It's alive and Sacred. And it's YOU who have this whole world in your hands. It's your planet and no one is going to show up and help you fix it. So enjoy it, protect it—cherish it, cherish yourselves, and cherish each other," he says, lifting up his other hand, as if in a blessing.
ï»¿He just stood there, blessing the audience, kindness radiating outward from every cell, lightning bolts of love pouring out of those dark, Jewish eyes.
What a night! What an unbelievable night!
This is an updated version of a Huffington Post blog that someone requested. A link to this one and the original version (Jesus on Jon Stewart) is below:
his popped up on someone's facebook page this week. A mystery! I wrote it in 2015. Still seems fresh.
When God Gave Up On Humans
It came to pass, in the 21st century, that God gave up on the human race. He scrawled his message across the sky in words that were understood by every tribe and nation:
"You are on your own. In 20 centuries, you have failed to love each other. You use me as a reason to hate and kill. You endanger your children. You poison your planet. I am done with you. You'll have to find me in each other from now on."
The people on earth wept and worried. "What will become of us?" they wondered. "Who will we run to? Who will provide for us? How will I find my car keys?" they asked, throwing up their arms in despair.
Over the years, even the adults had become like children in their notions of God. While every holy book encouraged them to find God in themselves and each other, they insisted on keeping God up in the heavens. They made God responsible for everything, saying " God did this" and "God did that." As long as God was the Heavenly Father, they could act as children, and they did.
Even when great teachers came to tell them they were one with God, they were the hands and arms and legs of God, they were the breath of God, they would not grow up, for growing up would mean they would have to change their ways-and they did not want to.
When the sky bulletin came, people flocked to the churches and temples to see what to do. But no one there had an answer, for they, too, had kept God high upon a cloud, referring to God as "up there" or "out there." It was God who made miracles, they preached. God who made the rules, God who punished, God who gave men all the power. They, too, were like children and were lost without God.
Years passed, seasons changed, and life on earth changed dramatically when God left the people on earth. There was a great sadness, except for the few who claimed they had felt all along that God dwelt within them. Those people had no sadness, and in fact, quite the opposite occurred. They were secretly relieved that the people stopped calling out God's name for their reasons to hate and hurt others.
Once God disappeared, people stopped fighting over what God meant in the Bible or the Koran. There was no point in fighting over God if God wasn't even around. If there was no God, there was nobody condemning anyone's behavior, no more infidels, no reason to take "an eye for an eye."
People stopped seeking out priests and caliphs, rabbis and ministers, for there was no God for them to mediate. They sought out, instead, the people who were joyful and calm in this time of abandonment, thinking they must know something special and secret to be so happy.
One such person was a woman who sat under a tree in a village.
"How can you be so happy when God has left us?" a villager asked her.
"Only that God who was far away has left," she answered. "The spark inside still remains. It is our breath. That, to me, is God. It is the love within. If I am breathing, I am being breathed by God. For that, I am joyful, for I am not alone."
A soldier came to the woman, put down his gun and sat beside her.
"I have been a patriot. I have gone to war for God and my country. I do not understand why God has left me. I do not know what to do."
She smiled and took his hand. "Those ideas in your head, you have learned from someone else. Have you learned to listen to the voice within?
"I do not know what the voice inside me has to say," he said.
"Then you must sit with someone and tell your story, for only then will you hear it. And when you are done with your story, listen to the story of the one who heard you. Be real when you speak, and be ready when you listen, for it is in that conversation that you will find the answer for your next move."
The wise woman under the tree counseled people through the day, as did all the wise women in towns and villages around the world. They addressed the people's fears of living without God and reminded everyone that God lived right inside them. Over and over, they held the hands of fearful people saying "an old myth is dying but a new one is being born.
They helped people grow up with a view of the Holy One deep within. They passed on secrets about finding the sacred in the sap of a maple, the flow of a river, the majesty of a mountain, and the people, in time, grew reverent toward the Earth.
They stopped asking questions like "What is your religion?" or "Have you been saved?" for everyone knew the other was holy and a spark of that Flame they once called God.
People learned to share their stories, to listen to their hearts and help each other. They changed their ways, replenished the soil, cleaned the waters, and harnessed the powers of Wind and Sun.
Over time, the people grew up and saw the light. Wars stopped as Allah/God was welcomed home in the hearts of the people.
Once they found God in themselves and each other, the people rejoiced and were glad. They were free at last, bowing in joy to the Earth and all creatures.
©2015 Jan Phillips