Think the Way Christ Jesus Thought

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Palm Sunday

Isaiah 50:4-9a
Psalm 31:9-16
Philippians 2:5-11 
Mark 14:1-15:47

In your life together, think the way Christ Jesus thought. He was like God in every way, but he did not think that his being equal with God was something to use for his own benefit. Instead, he gave up everything, even his place with GodEasy-to-Read Version

All four Gospel writers reserved plenty of space to record the last week of the life of Jesus. When we get down to it, the birth of Jesus is not the important story. Yes, we need to know he was a normal human. He was not Clark Kent, just pretending to be normal when in fact he was Superman. Jesus was all human with only one superpower, he listened to and obeyed God ALWAYS.

In the reading the text above, we see that Jesus never did anything for himself—it was for God alone. Jesus left the presence of God to become a human and left ALL his powers in Heaven. We tend to give Jesus credit for the miracles, but Jesus always said it was God. He was not being modest; God preformed the miracles so that Jesus could get the credit.

He emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, becoming as human beings are; and being in every way like a human being, he was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a crossNJB

We are called to think the way Christ Jesus thought. To follow the example of Jesus as Paul describes it here, we must forget about what is best for ourselves.

We Americans treat capitalism as coming from God. Yet, the system rewards both success and greed. In our effort to limit governmental power, we have reduced controls of its excesses. Various forms of capitalism are found around the world despite the government or the “official” economic system.

Every economy in the world has a black market and a gray market. For example, people in North Korea risk death to sell items smuggled into the country, usually from China. Since smuggling is a crime, that makes it a black market. A gray market would involve selling legal items, but without a permit. Or selling a repackaged product as original.

A common gray market in the US is trading services. I put a roof on your garage, and you put a new engine in my truck. If neither of us pays income taxes on the services, that would be a crime and that is why it is gray market. Trading services is not illegal in the US but is in some countries.

One of the biggest problems in the capitalistic system is labor. The business owner seeks to maximize his profit by paying low wages. Workers seek to earn as much as possible. The market process involves negotiations. The business offers jobs at $10/hour and if enough people are willing to accept that amount, the deal is done. But if not enough people will settle, then the wage goes up.

Labor unions have the legal right in the US and many Western countries to negotiate for their members. In 1964 unions reached their high point in the US with about 23.5 % of workers. Today it is 10.3%. We tend to criticize the excesses of unions while ignoring the excesses of business owners. There is such a thing as wage slavery.

Police shot (2015-2020) 34 per million blacks, 25 per million Hispanics, and 14 per million whites. Most were classed as proper shootings. The prison rates are similar when the sentencing for the same office is considered. The records in the areas of social services are similar. White women with children have less trouble receiving assistance. Race is a real problem in the US.

I will never forget the man I met in 1976 who lived in his own home, actually, in one room, having shut off the others to save on heat. His Social Security was $100 per month with no other income, his heart medication cost $75 per month, leaving him $25 for food and everything else. He could not receive any assistance because he owned his home. He was a member of the church I attend. As far as I know, we did nothing to help.

Immigration would not be an issue if the real Americans had refused to allow the the ship loads of people to get off at Jamestown and Plymouth. But they figured there was room enough for everyone. Today, many no longer believe we can take in any more people, except those who will do the dirty jobs Americans refuse. As a follower of Jesus, I believe people who come here from Canada, China, Ireland, Mexico, or Venezuela should be allowed to state their case. They should never be mistreated in the process.

Speaking of gray market, the tens of thousands of migrant workers who pick our crops are often illegals. The people who hire them know it but don’t care because the crops have to be picked. It is an illegal market that is ignored for everyone’s benefit.

We cannot use the words of Jesus—we will always have the poor with us—as a copout. But neither can any one of us try to solve every problem. We all have limits on time and money. Pick one, two, three to concentrate on. Join with others. My $20 will not end poverty but putting it with 100,000 other people will help ($2 million).

We will be living with the impact of SARS CoV 2 for years, many experts expect a decade. That means the number of homeless people, hungry people, disabled people, etc. will be higher for some time. Jesus would do his best to help.

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

Purple Cane Road

James Lee Burke is a great writer. I first read his Cadillac Jukebox in the late nineties and was hooked. He is a true wordsmith. Take for example this opening sentence of this book. Years ago, in state documents, Vachel Carmouche was always referred to as the electrician, never as the executioner. Your mind can play with dozens of possibilities for the rest of the story. In fact, Carmouche will be murdered half way through the first chapter, setting off the rest of the story.

Detective Dave Robicheaux is puzzled by the fact that Letty Labiche was arrested for the murder, but not her twin sister, Passion. His problem is that the twins were always together. Now, note that he believed they had every right to murder the man who had raped and brutalized them as children. But he wanted to know what really happened. He was fond of the truth.

At the same time, Dave is driven to find the two men who murdered his mother some years before. Letty and Passion knew something about the murder, but would not tell him anything.

Clete Purcel, his best friend, he describes this way. He had sandy hair that he combed straight back and a round Irish face and green eyes that always had a beam in them. His arms had the girth and hardness of fire plugs, the skin dry and scaling from the sunburn that never quite turned into a tan. Even so, Purcel was the best homicide detective NOPD had until they bounced him for drinking. He still drinks. Oh, Robicheaux was bounced for much the same reason. He now drinks Dr. Pepper.

The Robicheaux series is a walk on the dark side. You will be introduced to scum who only look human. People will be thrown into trees–from the third story roof. Murders will happen. A hired killer will befriend Dave’s daughter.

This is not a cozy. This is grit, but written so well that Shakespeare would be proud. If you can, get a copy of the audio of one of his books read by Will Patton. He really does justice to the setting. Nick Sullivan reads this book and does a good job. You might not want to listen on a dark and stormy night.

Mike Lawrence