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The Last and the Lost

My 84-year-old mother-in-law is a devout Catholic and as a result, I’ve had to spend most of my Sunday’s taking her to mass every Sunday evening at Novena Church. Although I am not Catholic (I am a Buddhist student of Christian Theology who has inevitably been blessed by Muslims, Jains and Hindus) I listen in and take in what’s being said. Today’s priest came up with what I thought was a valuable soundbite, which everyone seems to forget.

The service was about the “end of times,” or Judgement Day when Christ returns to judge humanity and the righteous are supposed to be resurrected. The priest made the valuable point that judgement day is not about a check list of how many commandments you broke and kept but about how you treated people, specifically the least, the last and the lost.

What made this resonate with me, is the fact that it seemed to touch on who Christ is and for that matter the Christian and just about every other religion. Read the Gospels and you will notice that Christ is a champion of the downtrodden. He is the ultimate rebel who showed up the respected members of society like the scribes and the pharisees for being hypocrites of the worst sort and offered to solace to the downtrodden like the fishermen, the tax collectors and prostitutes. The man wasn’t interested in collecting money from his followers but told the rich to sell all their possessions to become followers of his. Christ is the first God in human history who made suffering part of the ultimate divine glory:

The King of Kings Showed us that Salvation was in Suffering and Sacrifice

The King of Kings Showed us that Salvation was in Suffering and Sacrifice

I bring up this beautiful sound bite of the Least; the Last and the Lost because too many people get carried away with what I believe is the “wrong” thing (which I am aware makes me sound as dogmatic as the people I’m slagging off). Too many people get carried away with what I would call the “magic” of religion. Its as if you religion is a bargain where you pray to this or that God in the hope that by doing a certain number of prayers you will get health, wealth and happiness.

Now, I’m not denying the presence and probability of divine miracles. What I am saying is that the miracles are not actually the important part of the faith. Faith, as the Dalai Lama once said, should make you, “A better person.”

I think of the time I went to meet a Rinpoche in the airport. The man had a small entourage who had organized his trip to Singapore. The coffee session was very enlightening. The entourage had plenty of stories about all sorts of monasteries where there were monks who could do all sorts of miraculous things because they meditated on this way or that for decades of their lives and thus achieved so much merit.

Whilst these guys had plenty to say, the Rinpoche (who is supposed to be a living reincarnation who remembers his last life like it was yesterday) sat there looking rather bemused and whenever someone asked him about the magic, promptly said he didn’t know anything.

Now, this is a harmless story about people being focused on the wrong thing. It’s funny and cute in a certain way. What is not funny is when the focus on the magic becomes public policy and it comes a tool of oppression against the very people that just about every religion claim to champion. Think of India, which is officially secular but contains most of the world’s Hindus. Whilst the concept of “Untouchability” has long been abolished in the Indian constitution and legal system, you still get a large segment of the population getting the s**t kicked out of them because someone many thousands of years ago considered them unclean. Economic reforms have been doing their work in uplifting people beyond cast beliefs but its not happening fast enough.

Then, there’s the proverbial Holy Land to the Abrahamic Faiths. Three religions call this spot of the desert Holy and yet a host of very Unholy Things keep happening there in the name of the one God that all three religions claim as theirs.

If you leave you the main protagonist of this conflict (namely the Israeli Government and Hamas), you’ll find that the single worst group of people in keeping things in the Holy Land anything but Holy, you’ll find that they are inevitably the Zionist Christians. This refers to the group of Churches that believe that Christ will come again when the Israelis controls all the land. This is a group that has tremendous wealth and power or at least enough power to remind American politicians of both parties about which side they need to support. Hence, whenever a conflict between Israel and the Palestinians breaks out, you’ll find the most powerful man in the world doing what the Prime Minister of a strip of desert tells him to do.

Again, I don’t want to disparage belief in prophecy and whilst my study of theology is rather rusty, I don’t see how supporting a government that has on record killed 0.5 percent of a population of a territory (as reported by the Washington Post - (LINK) could be an act of Holiness.

Let’s remember, the Gospels are very clear. Jesus was on the side of the least; the last and the lost. As horrific as the October 7 attacks against Israel are, indiscriminate bombing of people who are the definition of the least; the last and the lost and calling it self-defense if not something Jesus would condone. If anything, the Zionist Churches who are actively supporting the bombings need to ask if getting Jesus to return is in their interest at all.

 

Tang Li

*Although I’ve been based mainly in Singapore for nearly two decades, I’ve had the privilege of being able to meet people who have crossed borders and cultures. I’ve befriended ministers and ambassadors and worked on projects involving a former head of state. Yet, at the same time, I’ve had the privilege of befriending migrant labourers and former convicts. All of them have a story to tell. All of them add to the fabric of life. I hope to express the stories that inspire us to create life as it should be.

 

 

yyy
READER COMMENTS BELOW

9 Responses to “The Last and the Lost”

  • Humanity:

    Humanity has lost its way…Wars and hatred is everywhere.
    We are no longer our brothers keeper.
    Who can save Humanity ?

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  • rice:

    Some powerful mortals think they are God or God’s law-enforcers?
    Delusional in the least.
    God is god.
    Man is still mere mortals on borrowed time on Earth,no matter how powerful.

    Jesus chastised the rich and powerful of his times.
    His message is still the same today.

    It is humans who twist the TRUTH to suit their THINKING and/or interests?

    Don’t blame God,Buddha or Jesus.
    If you must,GO BLAME THE DEVIL residing in MAN.

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  • rice:

    Some powerful mortals think they are God or God’s law-enforcers?
    Delusional in the least.
    God is god.
    Man is still mere mortals on borrowed time on Earth,no matter how powerful.

    Jesus chastised the rich and powerful of his times.
    His message is still the same today.

    It is humans who twist the TRUTH to suit their THINKING and/or interests?

    Don’t blame God,Buddha or Jesus.
    If you must,GO BLAME THE DEVIL residing in MAN.

    GD Star Rating
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  • Dalai Says "Read My Lips":

    There are stark differences in the “revealed” word of God between Judaism and Christianity. So interesting that author totally bypasses the fact that Jews does not accept Jesus as a divine being, an intermediary between humans and God, a messiah, or holy. Belief in the Trinity is also held to be incompatible with Judaism, as are a number of other tenets of Christianity. The Catholic Church is also not the entire sum of Christianity ether.

    I do not disagree that we need to understand the traditions of thought and practice that are necessary to profit from Christ’s teachings. But I do think that the words of the text speak for themselves. The Sermon on the Mount is fundamentally a message about the ‘Kingdom of God’ – a phrase which Jesus himself coins in chapter 4 verse 17 of the book of Matthew just before he begins his sermon on the mount. He is teaching about how God’s people – people who believe in Him – are to behave. To understand the whole sermon of the mount requires an understanding of the historical and social context of the Jewish people. Supposedly, many of the Jew of that time were merely blindly adhering to the laws of the Pharisees without a true understanding of what the laws were meant to do.

    As opined by author, the ‘improbable pairing’ of fundamentalist Christians and Zionist Jews in America is cemented by two systems of beliefs that contradict each other’s interpretation of Israel’s history and the point of progress of fulfillment of ancient biblical prophecies. One to bring the Second Coming, the other the First. And that ‘pairing’ has driven US policy for the Nation of Israel for decades. The present policy in Israel has evolved into something less Jewish and less Christian than the United States culture and politics today.

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  • SINGAROAR:

    Tang Li excellent article. You captured the essence of Christ and his teachings. As Christians, we cannot support any killing or Land grabs by States. I would like to add that it is GOD who chooses us. It is not the other way around. The knowledge that is given or not is by the grace of God.

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  • XiBaBa:

    Well said, well said @ Dalai Says “Read My Lips”. Give you thumbs up!

    — — —-

    Aiya Tang Li.
    Sounds like you know Jesus personally? How do know he is for the LEAST?

    According to Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus said that when the Son of Man comes in His glory and with all His angels, He will separate the righteous from the wick*d, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. The righteous will inherit eternal life, while the wick*d will be sent to eternal punishment.

    Thus, this war has 3-Fronts:
    1. The HAMAS;
    2. Those who support HAMAS;
    3. Those who turn a blind eyes to what HAMAS does.

    I say, have Israel do their job, and let God sort’em out.

    This is an intesting time. At adversity, we see who we are.
    Covid, Ukraine, Hamas, soon we will see China. Very soon.

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  • SINGAROAR:

    The same could be said of you XiBaBa.

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  • lost and hope to be found:

    My associates told me that ‘the least, the last and the lost’ is the guiding light of a highly (if not most) esteemed heritage catholic school here that had sadly lost its way to elitism as many of its alumni are infected by the PAP rot. These group of schools in the philippines are only for the very well to do and politicians. This priest is probably from this heritage school. Hope that this school that is lost would be found again.

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  • DeBarge:

    Tang Li,

    Yes, you understood Jesus perfectly on this.

    Blessed Christmas !

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