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  • ivanildotrindade 10:13 pm on March 29, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: anwar el sadat, easter, friend of sinners, , izaq rabin, , jesus drunkard, jesus glutton, jfk, john lennon, martin luther king jr, pope francisco, resurrection, ronald reagan, tax collectors   

    Jesus, John Lennon & Other Martyrs 

    I haven’t posted here in ages but it is Easter weekend, how can I not speak of something I feel so passionate about?

    I met a couple from a western European country in my local Starbucks here in Lititz today. We had a delightful conversation which lasted a little over 30 minutes. During that time we talked about a variety of subjects, among which the newly elected Pope. These folks are not religious people but they both expressed a certain degree of fascination with Pope Francisco, and especially how he comes across as a common man who is passionate about the poor and so far has said no to some of the luxuries of the good life afforded the “Prince” of the Roman Church.

    The lady made a comment that I thought was very intriguing. She said, “If other Popes and religious men had been that way, it would probably have impacted my life differently. I think I would have gone to church then.” Interesting.

    I guess few people dwell on the fact that contrary to many of the religious leaders of today, Jesus Christ was meek, compassionate, and irrevocably drawn to the poor and downcast. He was accused of being a “glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and other sinners,” a libel leveled against Him by the religious leaders of the day, who felt threatened by the fact that Jesus was radically different from them. Many of today’s religious leaders, by the way, don’t stand a chance of being even falsely accused of such things, because they endeavor not to be seen anywhere near such people or things (or, if they do, they make sure it is in secret…).

    Think about this: Jesus loved the poor and those who were considered “the least, the lost, the last” were attracted to Him like a magnet. He was killed. Gandhi was in favor of non-violent protest. He was killed. Martin Luther King Jr. was willing to dialogue with his “enemies.” He was killed. JFK was a Catholic President. He was killed. John Lennon imagined a world without class or war. He was killed. Ronald Reagan dared to talk to the leader of the Soviet Union about ending the Cold War. Someone tried to kill him. Izaq Rabin was willing to hold direct talks with the PLO. He was killed. Anwar el Sadat achieved an armistice with Israel. He was killed. And the list goes on and on…

    One has to wonder what might happen to this Pope… It seems like every time someone of prominence establishes himself against the status quo, they come gunning for him.

    But back to Jesus Christ. All the other men listed above died for a political cause (except maybe John Lennon?). Jesus died for a cause that was outside Himself. In biblical terms, He died a substitutionary death — His body and blood in exchange for the sins of the world to satisfy God’s justice. Jesus said that nobody took His life from Him, He voluntary gave it. Jesus didn’t die just because He was different; He died so YOU could be different.

    And most of all, all the other men above are revered today for what they did while living and maybe their heroic death. But there is a tomb somewhere where you can honor their memory. Jesus, on the other hand, though revered for His divine words and deft miracles is revered primarily for what happened AFTER He died. According to Scriptures, He rose again on the third day, and thus accomplished the greatest feat against the greatest enemy of mankind — death itself. And that is why we celebrate Easter this Sunday.

    “But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died… Death is swallowed up in victory. ‘O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’” (Paul in 1 Corinthians 15).

    Happy Easter, everyone!

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

    PS.: I am blogging more often here.

  • ivanildotrindade 10:30 pm on February 14, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: decency, principals to live by, Religion, , resurrection, , universal religion   

    My 13 irreducible minimums of decency 

    The story is told of a young French soldier who was intent on starting his own religion. Day after day he would spend hours evangelizing the other soldiers, extolling the virtues of his ideas for a revolutionary brand of religion which would be universally acceptable to everyone. Trouble is, in spite of his efforts, he never made one convert.

    Dejected, he went to his captain and complained that while he worked tirelessly, the priest in his unit seemed to spend all his time enjoying cigarettes and sipping wine with the troops; meanwhile, his chapel was overflowing with converts. Desperate, he asked the captain, “Tell me, Sir. What also should I do to win followers?” The captain simply looked at him and said, “Try dying and coming back to life after three days!”

    Moral of the story: it is hard to compete with the J. C. himself. I ain’t trying, but I have my own set of principal rules I try to live by. I call them my “irreducible minimums of decency” or I.M.D’s (not to be confused with W.M.D’s!). There will be no altar call at the end nor will I pass the bucket for an offering. Just tell me what you think of these ideas and feel free to add your own. I happen to believe that even those on the far edge of the religious spectrum might find some points of convergences here. Of course, this is not an exhaustive list, but it is a good start. So here they are:

    1. If there is a vulnerable child involved, be willing to be taken advantage of, if you can be reasonably sure that your help is going to benefit that child in some way;

    2. If you are going to accuse someone of stealing or committing an act that breaches the laws of country or civility, you better be 100% sure. 99.9% won’t do;

    3. If you are going to praise someone, write it down; if you are going to criticize or reprimand, speak face-to-face;

    4. If someone calls you “stupid,” say “thank you for the information,” and walk away;

    5. Never loan money to a family member. Either donate it or don’t do it at all;

    6. Live today as if this were the last day of your life;

    7. When in doubt, always defend those who have no voice against the powerful and learned;

    8. Greet janitors at airports and other public places. Smile and thank them for the nice job they are doing;

    9. Never underestimate your tendency to act contrary to decency;

    10. Your wife is always smarter than you think;

    11. If all your other answers fail, go to church;

    12. At least once in your lifetime, find a person who is perceived as the least desirable company in your community and make him/her feel like the king/queen of the world;

    13. If you were the only person in the world who is FOR you, you could never say that THE WORLD is against you.

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

  • ivanildotrindade 6:34 pm on November 21, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: capernaum, , james, jesus' flesh and blood speech, john, john 6, resurrection   

    Peter, the man — III 

    “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.”

    This is my first Passover meal after the Lord was taken up to heaven. For this reason, I can’t help but feel a little nostalgic. I think of the events that led to His passion and play with a thousand scenarios in my mind. I keep asking myself, “How did we miss so many things that are so obvious to us now?”

    I remember the time we were all in Capernaum, where my brother, Andrew, I, James and John, come from. By now Jesus was drawing large crowds everywhere, and we were gladly riding the coattails of his popularity. I mean, is there anything sweeter than returning home as the right hand men of the most famous person in the nation?  We went to the local synagogue and everyone came out to hear Him.

    For us, local boys, it was a chance to prove our critics wrong. And trust me, they were there. We could spot them in the crowd – the same people who called us crazy for leaving our fishing business and casting our lots with an unknown Rabi who was reputed to be the promised Messiah. Now, they were coming to us with gifts, hoping to have an audience with Jesus. And without our clearance, no one could see Him. Suddenly, everybody admired us and wanted to be our friends.

    That is until Jesus opened His mouth and began to speak… I mean, here we were, in the biggest moment of our lives, expecting vindication or at least a pad on the back. If He wanted, He could have made a passing reference to us, like, “For all of you out there who thought Peter and Andrew were crazy, well, I’ve got news for you:  you were all wrong!” But no, instead, Jesus began to say some strange things that got even us, insiders, a little worried.

    It started when some religious leaders from our town heard Jesus say that He came from “heaven.” Sure, you can say that thousands of kilometers away from your village, but Jesus was saying this practically in his hometown. These people knew where Jesus had come from, they knew His parents, his brothers and sisters; they even knew what his favorite outfit was, when He used to go to the local synagogue as a young boy. I thought, “Oh, oh, we’re in trouble now.”

    Next, Jesus began to talk about “My Father this, My Father that.” People got confused. “Isn’t this fellow the same Jesus, the son of Mary and Joseph? How can he then say that he came from Heaven?” But Jesus was on a roll now. The day was getting late and people’s stomachs began to growl. Can’t imagine a worse time to talk about eating flesh and drinking blood… But that’s exactly what Jesus did!

    He said, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.”  Simon, who knew a thing or two about blood from his days as an insurgent against Rome, looked across and mouthed, “This is going to be a bloody mess. Time to get out of here!” But Jesus went on to say, “For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.”

    I thought, “It’s all over now.” The crowd went wild, a fierce argument broke off, and people were sneering. I looked for Simon and he was gone. I started moving toward Jesus and overheard one of the leaders saying, “How can this fellow offer us his flesh to eat?” There was chaos all around and even some of Jesus’ most dedicated followers were saying out loud, “This lesson is a little hard to swallow. I wish He had skipped it.”

    Andrew found me and said, “I guess the paparazzi will leave us alone tonight.” I wanted to smack him, joking at a time like this…, but he couldn’t be more right: our celebrity days were over! Jesus looked at us, a handful of his core disciples still standing there, and asked, “Are you also going to leave me?” I looked around, saw Simon coming back, and for a moment I had a flashback. I thought of the time we had been exhausted from fishing all night. Haven’t caught nothing, we were washing our nets, when Jesus came and told us go to go fishing again. I knew it was useless, but I did it anyway and we had the biggest catch ever. I imagined I was on the boat with Him again when he told the wind to stop and I could hear His voice once more commanding, “Lazarus, come forth!”

    Suddenly, I understood clearly that even if I didn’t get the whole flesh and blood thing, what I had experienced with Jesus was real, it was supernatural, and it was stuff that only The Messiah of God could do. So, when Jesus asked if we were going to leave Him as well, for once in my life, my reaction was not one of emotion. Rather, it was probably the most rational thing that ever came out of my mouth and it came to me as naturally as grilling fish on the beach. I said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy one of God.”

    Now we know that Jesus was not speaking of literal food or drink. He was pointing us to his death and resurrection, the two events that changed the course of history and restored hope to the heart of fallen humans like you and me. And even if that speech was a little hard on the ears, I am glad Jesus gave it. It was that speech that gave me a chance to settle in my mind once and for all who Jesus really was – my Savior, my Lord, the Holy one of God!

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

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