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Jesus of Nazarethis apatrimonyof humanity, amotive force behindanewwayof living the experience of God, of
humanrelationships andof rebuildingthe world.
I Infirst century Jewishsociety and, more specifically, inthe Galilee of the ,o’s there was noproper separationbe-
tweenthe different aspects of life —religious, political and economic—which we today make without giving it
much thought. Even the concept of «religion» does not exist. Everything is intertwined and implicit. What we
today call «the religious dimension» is present ineverything. It legitimizes, guides andinfluences a particular
way of understanding life and organizing relationships. From this point of view it is anachronistic to consider
Jesus as thefounder of anewreligion. It is moreaccuratetoseeinhimamanwhohavinghadanewexperienceof
God, launches anunderstandingandamovement torevitalizelife.
: Jesus is not a Jewishscribe, nor is he a priest of the Temple. It is not his intentiontoteacha religious doctrine, ex-
poundthe lawof God, or evolve theories about the divinity. Properly speaking Jesus does not teacha doctrine for
his disciples tolearncorrectlyandspread. Jesus announces anevent that requires it beheardandrespondedtobe-
cause it canchange everything. He is already experiencing it andinvites everyone toshare that experience: Godis
entering humanhistory. It’s the best thing that couldhappentous. «The Kingdomof God is at hand. Change your
wayof thinkingandbelievetheGoodNews»(MarkI:I,).
Researchers nowthinkthat what Jesus calls «thekingdomof God»is theheart of his message, thepassionthat in-
spiredall his life, the reasonfor whichhe was executed. And, naturally, this «kingdomof God»is not a religion. It
goes muchbeyondthe beliefs, precepts andrituals of any religion. It is a newexperience of Godwhichredefines
everything ina different way. If a newreligionis bornof Jesus, as infact happened, it will have tobe a religionat
theserviceof theproject of Jesus for theworld, that is, at theserviceof theKingdomof God.
, The surprising thing is that Jesus never explainedinwhat the Kingdomof Godconsists. What he does is suggest
inpoetic language howGodworks andwhat the worldwouldbe like if there were people whoactedlike him. We
can say the «Kingdomof God» is life as God wants to formit. What would life in the empire be like, if God not
Tiberius were toreigninRome? What wouldlife be like inGalilee, if Godnot HerodAntipas reignedinTiberias?
What wouldlifebelikefor theJewishpeople, if theTempleinJerusalemwereruledbyGodnot Caiphas?
For Jesus, the Kingdom of God is the fundamental absolute value which relativizes and relegates to its proper
place everything else: laws, traditions, religions and cultures. We can say that Jesus sought one thing only: that
there shouldbe onearthmenandwomenwhowouldbegintoact as Godacts. It was his obsession: what would
life be like, if people resembled God more? Howwould everything be transformed if the scribes who expound
theLaw, thelandowners of Galilee, thelegates of Romeweretoact as Godwants?
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¡ To speak about all this, Jesus chose as a central symbol of the whole of his message and work a political term
whichcouldnot but raise expectations andstrong misgivings: what was Jesus implying inspeaking of the King-
dom of God? The term «basileia» which the Christian sources invariably use to translate the expression «the
Kingdomof God», was used in the ,o’s to refer only to «the empire of Rome». It was Caesar of Rome who, with
his legions, establishedthe «pax romana» andimposedhis justice onthe whole world, subjecting peoples to his
imperial rule. He provided wellbeing and security, exacting in exchange for his protection as a «benefactor»,
ruthless taxation from subjugated peoples. What was Jesus now trying to suggest by inviting all «to enter the
“Empireof God”», whichincontrast toTiberius didnot seekpower, wealthor honor but justiceandcompassion
specially for the lowest, the most excludedandhumiliated? Evidently it was clear that to«enter» the Empire of
God, it was necessaryto«get out»of theEmpireof Rome.

Twothousandyears separate us fromJesus, but his personandhis message continue toattract menandwomen.
The passage of time has not succeeded in erasing his seductive power or to muffle the echo of his words. Today
when philosophies, religions, ideologies, politics, cults and the churches go through a deep crisis, the figure of
Christ is not incrisis. His personandhis messagearestill therecallingfor abetter, happier andhopeful lifefor all.
Inrecent years anewdiscourseabout Jesus begins tobeheard. Hereis what is beingsaidinnon-Christiancircles:
Jesus does not belongonlytoChristians. Heis thepatrimonyof humanity, thebest historyhas given; it wouldbeatragedy
if hefell intooblivion. Jesushasnot onlybegunanewreligion, but anewtime. Historyhasneverproducedaspower-
ful asymbol totransformtheworldas «thekingdomof God»; thecourseof theworldwouldchangeif «theking-
domof God»wouldbecomethebackboneof cultures, politics andreligions. Somewouldevenventuretosaywe
are perhaps seeing the end of a Christian religion shaped by Greek culture and Roman law, but we are on the
thresholdof anewdevelopment of themovement of Jesusinthecomingcenturies.Jesuscouldbethesoul of amore
humanandmorehopeful globalizedworld.
To explainthis, we will present, indifferent Letters fromthe Editor, four basic dimensions andaspects of Jesus’ way of
living, fromwhichdifferent consequences are derived, as understoodbyJoséAntonioPagolainhis Books:
 Compassionas aprinciple of action
 The dignityof the lowest as agoal
 Healingas aprogram
 Forgiveness as ahorizon
Readmorein: Jesus. AnHistorical ApproximationandFollowinginthe Footsteps of Jesus byJoséAntonioPagola.
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Compassionas aprinciple of action

The researchonJesus reaches a fairly widespreadconclusion. Jesus of Nazarethwas a man, perhaps the only one,
wholivedandcommunicateda sane experience of God, without distorting it withthe fears, ambitionandfantasies
whichdifferent religions ordinarilyproject ontothedivinity.
Jesus never speaks of Godas indifferent or distant, uninvolvedwiththelifeof humanbeings or interestedonlyin
his honor, his glory and his rights. At the heart of his experience we do not find the image of a lawgiver God who
wants togoverntheworldthroughlaws, whilethreateninghis creatures withterriblepunishments or winningthem
over withwonderful rewards. Neither does heexperienceGodas arighteous beingannoyedandangryat thesight of
our sins.
v.v.nivs ov cou’ s coxv.s s i ox
For Jesus, Godis Compassion, «bowels», or as he wouldsay «rahamim» inthe language of his choice. Compassionis
the nature of God, his first reaction towards his children, the fundamental source of his action. God feels for his
creatures what a mother feels for the child in her womb. God carries us in his «womb». The most beautiful and
touchingparables that every left the lips of Jesus andwhichhe undoubtedly most workedoninhis heart were those
he told to get all to perceive the incredible compassion of God. The most captivating, perhaps, is the parable of the
«GoodFather».
1uv v.v.niv ov 1uv coou v.1uvv
Those whoheardit for the first time were nodoubt amazed. It was not what they were accustomedtohear fromthe
scribes or the priests of the temple. Is it possible that Godis like this? Like a father whodoes not keephis inheritance
for himself, who is not obsessed by the proper moral behavior of his children, who cuts short the guilty acknowl-
edgement of the prodigal sonto spare himfurther humiliation, who breaking the norms for what is just and right,
seeks anhonorableandhappylifefor all?
Could this be the best metaphor for God: a father who moved to the depths of his being welcomes the lost, be-
seeching those who observe his commandments to welcome themwith the same compassion? Could God be a fa-
ther whowants todirect history towards a final feast where at last life will be celebratedandthe liberationachieved
of all that enslaves anddemeans thehumanbeing? Jesus speaks of arichbanquet, of music anddancing, of lost peo-
plewhohaveleft adishonorablelife, of brothers invitedtojointhem.Will this betheultimatesecret of life?
v.v.niv ov 1uv owxvv ov . vi xvs.vu
Jesus alsotoldanamazing andshocking parable about the owner of a vineyardwhowantedworkandbreadfor all.
This manhireddifferent groups of workers: the first at six inthe morning, thenabout nine, later at twelve mid-day,
at threeintheafternoonandevenat fivewhentherewas onlyanhour of theworkingdayleft.
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Surprisingly he paid all of thema denarius, which was needed to live on for a day. This man does not think of the
meritsof oneortheother, but whetherall will haveenoughfordinnerwiththeirfamilies.Whentheworkerswhocame
first protest,thisishisreply: «CanInot dowhat Iwant withwhat is mine?Orareyoujealous becauseIamgenerous»?
There had to be general confusion about what Jesus was suggesting. Is it that for God merits don’t count? Does
Godnot work withthe standards that work for us? Does not this way of understanding the goodness of Godbreak
downall our religious structures? Is it true that rather thanweighing our merits he is thinking about howto meet
our needs? If this is trueit wouldbegreat news.
1uv v.v.niv ov 1uv vu.vi s vv .xu 1uv 1.x coiivc1ov
There was another disconcerting parable that remainedimprintedinthe memory of his disciples about a Pharisee
anda tax collector. They went uptothe temple topray. The Pharisee stands upconfidently todoso. His conscience
does not accuse himof anything. He fulfills the lawfaithfully and even goes beyond its demands. He is not a hyp-
ocrite. Hespeaks thetruth.
SohegivesthankstoGod. If thismanisnot asaint, whocanbeone? Heiscertainthat hecancount withtheblessing
of God. The taxcollector onthe other hand, retires toa corner andhe does not dare eventolift his eyes fromthe floor.
He knows he is a sinner, andhe knows toothat he cannot change his life. He cannot give uphis job, nor canhe return
what he has stolen. So he does not promise anything. All that remains for himis to abandon himself to the mercy of
God.«OhGod, bemerciful tomeasinner». Nobodywouldwant tobeinhisplace.Godcannot approvehisbehavior.
Unexpectedly Jesus concludes the parable with this statement: «I tell you that this tax collector went down to his
house justified and not that Pharisee». Jesus takes everyone by surprise. Suddenly he opens up to thema newworld
whichdemolishes all religious patterns of thought.
Howcanhe speak of a Godwhodoes not recognize the pious, and, onthe contrary, gives his blessing tothe sin-
ner whoabandons himself tohis mercy? Is it true that inthe endwhat matters is not the religious life of the one but
the unfathomable mercy of God? Is it true that what has the last word is not the Law that judges our lives but the
compassionof Godwhohears our prayer?
.i1vvx.1i vv ov ) vs us 1o . ui s cvi xi x.1ovs .xu vxcius i vv s oci v1s
This experience of a compassionate God was the point of departure of the revolutionary work of Jesus which led
himtointroduce intohistorya newprinciple of action: compassion. The religious andsocio-political organization
of theJewishpeopletookoff fromaradical demandthat canbestatedthus: «Be holybecause I, the Lordyour God, am
holy». The people had to imitate the Holy God of the Temple who rejects the pagans, sinners and the impure, and
blesses thechosenpeople, thejust andthepure.
This imitationof theholiness of Godunderstoodas theseparationof the«not-holy, the“impure”», gavebirthto
a discriminatory andexclusive society. The Jewishpeople sought their identity by excluding the paganandimpure
nations. The priests of the Temple enjoyeda level of purity superior tothat of the rest of the people. Those whoob-
serve the Lawenjoy the blessing of God while sinners are the object of his anger. Men belong to a superior level of
sanctity to that of women who are always tainted with suspicion of impurity because of menstruation and child-
birth. Those whoare healthyare closer toGodthanlepers, the blindor the crippledwhoare excludedfromaccess to
theTemple.
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Jesus introduces into this society an alternative which changes everything: «Be compassionate as your Father is
compassionate». Thecompassionof Godandnot holiness is theprincipleor «ethos»whichhas toinspirehumanac-
tion. Jesus does not denytheholiness of God, but what qualifies that holiness is not theseparationof theimpure, the
rejectionof what is not holy. Godis holyandgreat not becauseheexcludes thepagans, sinners, or theimpurebut be-
cause he loves without excluding anyone fromhis compassion. For this reason compassion is not one more virtue
for Jesus but the only way tobe like God, the only way tosee the world, tofeel for people, andtoreact tohumanbe-
ings thewayGodwould.
v.v.niv ov 1uv coou s .x.vi 1.x
This compassionis not amerefeelingbut aprincipleof actionwhichdefies conventional patterns of behavior. It con-
sists in internalizing and making our own the suffering of the other in order to respond and do for himall we can.
Jesus suggested this as a challenge in the parable of the Good Samaritan. Jesus speaks of a man assaulted and aban-
doned by the roadside on a lonely road. Fortunately two travelers pass by the same way : a priest and a Levite. They
come fromthe Temple after performing their ritual duties. The woundedmansees themarrive full of hope: they are
from his own town ; they represent the God of the Temple; no doubt they will have pity. It is not so. The two went
aroundhimandpassedhimby.
Athirdtraveler comes along. Heis neither apriest nor aLevite. Hedoes not evenbelongtothechosenpeople. He
is a hated Samaritan, a member of an enemy people. The wounded man watches himapproach scared. He can ex-
pect theworst. However, theSamaritanhadcompassiononhim; hecametohimanddidfor himall hecouldtosave
him. The listeners couldn’t have beenmore surprised. The parable broke all the patterns of behavior andclassifica-
tion of people into friends and enemies, into chosen people and foreigners and impure people. Is it true that com-
passioncanflownot fromtheTemple, nor fromofficial religious channels, but fromaproverbial enemy?
Jesus looked at life from the roadside, through the eyes of victims who most needed help. There is no doubt
about it. For Jesus thebest metaphor for Godis compassionfor thewounded.AndtheonlywaytobelikeGodandto
behaveinahumanwaywas tobehaveas that Samaritandid.
The parable of Jesus introduceda complete change. The representatives of the Temple pass the woundedby; the
hatedenemyis the savior. Barriers fall withthe appearance of compassion. Evenatraditional enemy, detestedbyall,
canbeachannel of thecompassionof God.Will wenot havetoforget prejudices, hatreds andsectarianisms?Will we
not havetorearrangeeverythingfromacompassionateperspective?
v.v.niv ov 1uv s uvvv .xu 1uv co.1s ‒ 1uv ) uucxvx1 ov .ii x.1i oxs
Afinal parable inwhichit is not easytoreconstruct the original narrative of Jesus, allows us tounderstandthe revo-
lutionhe introducedinhistory. The parable is really a grandiose descriptionof the judgment of all the nations. We
have there the peoples of all races andnations, of all cultures andreligions, andgenerations of all the ages. The final
verdict will beheardwhichwill makeeverythingclear.
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Two groups keep emerging fromthat multitude. Some are called to receive the blessing of God to inherit his
kingdom; others are askedtogoaway. Eachgroupgoes tothe place theythemselves have chosen. Some have reacted
withcompassionfor theneedy; theothers wereindifferent totheir suffering.What decides their fateis not their reli-
gionnor their piety. They have not actedout of religious motives. Quite simply some have beenmovedby compas-
sionothers not.
The parable speaks of sixbasic situations. Theyare not unrealistic cases, but situations that are knowntoall peo-
ples of all times. Everywhere there are people who are hungry and thirsty; immigrants and the naked; sick and in
prison. There is nomentionof big words like «justice» or «solidarity», but of food, clothing, of something todrink,
of a roof for shelter. There is no mention of «love» either, but of such concrete things as «give» «welcome», «visit»,
«go».What matters is not theorybut compassionwhichleads onetohelptheother whenit is needed.
Trueprogress, theredemptionof humanity, lies incaringfor theunfortunateof theworld. Its damnation, onthe
other hand, lies inindifference tosuffering. The message proclaimedandput intopractice by Jesus tothe endof his
lifewas this: «Be compassionate as your heavenlyFather is compassionate». This is his legacy.
JosvAx1oxioP.coi.
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The dignityof the lowest as agoal

Jesus livedinasocietyindeepcrisis. Everyoneexpectedadecisiveevent, evenGod’s intervention, that wouldreverse
the situation. The Essenes of Qumran, the various groups of Pharisees, the radical «haberim», the resistance move-
ments against Rome, theapocalypticseers, all proposedvarious alternatives. Jesus, onhis part, was developinginhis
minda completely original project: he calledit «the Kingdomof God», andhe conceivedit as the emergence of his
compassionintheworld.
God is goodness without limits, incredible compassion towards those who suffer. The important thing is to accept,
bring into and propagate compassion in society. It is not necessary to look for a neworder of things that is more just ac-
cording to the understanding each group has of its own vision and interests. It is necessary to introduce a new dynamic
anda newdirectioninto life. Compassionmust direct andimpel everything towards a more honorable life for the lowest
insociety.
This message was achallenge for all. AccordingtoJesus the nationhas tolearntolive bylookingat life fromadif-
ferent angle. It has tofree itself fromtraditional wisdomwhichfor centuries has moldedthe traditions of Israel, the
religionof the Temple, andthe spirituality of different groups. The values deeply internalizedinthe social conscience
have tobe critically assessed. They have very concrete labels: «the electionof Israel», «the destructionof the pagans»,
«control over enemytowns», «the curse of sinners».
Jesus nowcalls the people to accept the kingdomof Godwhichwants a better andhappier life for all, beginning with
the lowest of all. They must learntolive withadifferent set of values: compassionfor those whosuffer, protectionof the
weakest, unconditional acceptance of all, struggle for the dignityof everyhumanbeing.
The people of Galilee were well aware of what a kingdombuilt on violence and oppression was like. They lived
for many years suffering fromthe cruelty of Roman rule, and the exploitation of the ruling classes. It had always
been that way. It didn’t matter whether it was the Empire of Augustus or of Tiberius, the kingdomof Herod or the
government of his sonAntipas. The result was always the same: luxurious buildings inthe cities, misery inthe vil-
lages; wealthandostentationamong the urbanelites, anddebt, loss of lands andhunger for the peasants; enrichment
of thelargelandowners, increaseof themalnourished, beggars, vagrants, prostitutes, slaves escapedfromtheir mas-
ters, andbandits. Theycouldexpect nothingfromTiberius or fromAntipas.
Wehavetoplacetheworkof Jesus inthis context. His aimwas not toorganizeamoreperfect religion. Hedidnot
set himself todevelopa more precise theology about Godor a more dignifiedliturgy inthe Temple. The passionhe
fosteredall his lifewas different. Hewantedtoseetheproject of Godrealizedas soonas possible: ahappier andmore
dignifiedlife for all. Andfor that he hadtointroduce intosociety a newattitude towards the lowest, the most needy
andvulnerable. What wouldthe worldbe like if Godandnot Tiberius were infact reigning over the nations? What
wouldhappenif everythingwouldbeas Godwantedit?
For the conventional religionof Israel it was all very clear: Godwouldintervene inorder to destroy the enemies
of Israel andannihilatetheimpious whodonot observetheTorah. Jesus surprises themall. Hedoes not taketheside
of the chosenpeople against the paganpeople: the kingdomof Godwill not involve the destructionof the gentiles.
He does not take the side of the just either against the impious: the kingdomof Godwill not involve a victory of the
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holy inorder topunishthe evil for their sins. Jesus is onthe side of those whosuffer andagainst evil andinjustice
whichprevent everyoneenjoyingamorejust anddignifiedlife.
The compassion of God demands that justice be done to the poorest and the most oppressed. The Kingdomof
Godis for them. Jesus canseewithhis owneyes thosepeoplewhoareoppressedinthevillages, without beingableto
protect themselves against the big landowners; he knows well the hunger those malnourishedwomenandchildren
suffer; he has seenthose peasants mourn, angryandhelpless, at the loss of their lands andat seeingthe taxcollectors
walkaway withmost of their harvest. They are the ones whoneedtohear before anyone else his message: «Blessed
are youwho possess nothing because God is your king. Blessed are youwho hunger nowfor youwill be filled. Blessed are
youwhomournnowfor youwill laugh».
HowcouldJesus saythat? Isn’t it ajoke? Is it not cynicism? Jesus says it withtotal conviction. This sayingis central
tohis message: those who are of no use to anyone, Godhas a stake in; those who are «surplus» inthe empires built up by
men have a place of privilege in his heart; those who have no one to protect them, have God as Father. If the kingdomof
Godis welcomed, everythingwill change for the lowest. This was the faithof Jesus, his passionandhis struggle.
But Jesus is realistic. All this does not meanthe endof hunger andmiseryjust now, but a dignityfor all victims of
abuse andoutrage that cannot be touched. The whole worldhas toknowthat they are the favoredchildrenof God.
This bestows onthemanabsolutelyunquestionabledignity. Never anywherewill weset uplifethewayGodwants it
if we donot free these menandwomenfromtheir miseryandoppression. Never will anyreligionbe blessedbyGod
if it does not establishjusticefor all. This is what it means towelcomethekingdomof God: tohavereligions, nations,
andpolitics caringfor thedignityof theweakest sections of society.
JosvAx1oxioP.coi.
Readmorein: Jesus. AnHistorical ApproximationandFollowinginthe Footsteps of Jesus byJoséAntonioPagola.
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Healingas aprogram

Thereis nodoubt that Jesus loved, protectedanddevotedhis attentiontothepoorest andmost vulnerablemembers
of society. There wasn’t anythingoriginal about this. Manyothers haddone the same before andafter Jesus. What is
strikingly admirable is that Jesus valued nothing above them, he loved nothing more than them: not religion, the
Lawor thesecurityof his people. Thesources leavenoroomfor doubt. Themost important thingfor Jesus is thelife
of thepeople, not religion.
Sin, morality or the Laware not the fundamental reason for which Jesus is centered on God and his kingdom
among men, but the suffering that comes fromlackof compassion. People at once caught ontothe difference be-
tween Jesus and John the Baptist. The mission of John was conceived and organized in terms of sin. It was his
paramount concern: to denounce the sins of the people, call people to repentance and purify through baptism
those who came to the Jordan. John never cured the sick, he did not touch lepers nor did he free the possessed or
alleviate suffering.
By contrast, the primary concernof Jesus was the suffering andmarginalizationwhichthe sick andthose worse
off were subject to. The sources donot describe Jesus travellingthroughGalilee insearchof sinners toconvert them
fromtheir sins. Theyshowhimgoingtothe sickandpossessed, tocure themfromtheir suffering. His was not areli-
gious or moral missionbut a healing missionaimedat alleviating the suffering of those whowere oppressedby evil
and excluded froma healthy life. What more clearly defined his work was the removal of suffering rather than the
denunciation of the sins of the people. It is not that sin did not concern himbut that for himthe sin that most op-
poses the kingdomof Godis precisely the one that causes suffering or tolerates it withindifference or disregards its
presenceamongus.
It has beensaidwithreasonthat against the «mysticismof closedeyes» proper tothe Buddha andEasternspiri-
tuality ingeneral, whichseeks liberationfrompainandsorrowinturning one’s attentioninward, Jesus promotes a
«mysticismof openeyes», anda spirituality of absolute responsibility of caring for the suffering of people. When
Jesus is askedwhether he comes inthe name of God, all he does is present his healingandcuringworkas ananswer:
«The blindreceive sight, the lame walk; those whohave leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the deadare raised, andthe good
news is preachedtothe poor».
Onanother occasionwhenJesus is accusedof interveninginthesomber worldof evil spirits throughhis associa-
tion with demonic forces, he replies with these words: «If I cast out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdomof
Godhas come to you». There is nodoubt. Youact inthe name of Godwhenyoufight against suffering. Youopenthe
waytothekingdomof Godwhenyoufreepeoplefromevil.
Jesus launcheda «therapeutic religion» of healing whichhas noprecedent inthe religious traditionof Israel. Jesus
doesnot announcethekingdomof Godbyraisinganauthoritativeindexfingertoremindeveryoneof theLawof God.
TheGalileansfoundinhimsomethingnewandoriginal. Hishandswouldtouchlepers, blessthesick, caressthosewho
suffered. Jesus proclaimedGodby curing. This is what is new. Jesus set inmotiona process of healing bothindividual
andsocial withafundamental intention: tocureandtoalleviatesuffering, torestorelife. ThefourthGospel puts asen-
tenceinthemouthof Jesuswhichsaysit all: «Ihavecomethat theymayhavelifeandhaveit abundantly».
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Thehealings that Jesus performedat aphysical, psychological or spiritual level arethesymbol that best condense
andilluminatehis project of thekingdomof God. Jesus does not curearbitrarilyor for puresensationalism. Hedoes
not cure to prove his message, his authority or the power of God. He cures «moved by compassion», seeking the
complete healthof people: sothat all whofeel sick, miserable, brokenor oppressedcanexperience the healing signs
of aGodwhois afriendwhodesires amorehealthylifefor all.
We must not think only of cures. All his work tries to direct society to a healthier life. His revolt against many
pathological behaviors rootedinreligion(legalism, hypocrisy, scrupulous observanceof law, lackof love); his effort
to create a more just and inclusive fellowship; his offer of forgiveness to people mired in guilt and internal break-
down; his acceptance of those ill-treated by society; his determination to free everyone fromfear and insecurity in
order toliveout of absolutetrust inGod—his entireactivitywas directedtohealinglife.
Jesus only performed a handful of cures. In the villages of Galilee and Judea there were many more blind peo-
ple, lepers, and those possessed by demons bearing their suffering with no hope of any remedy. Only a fractionof
themexperiencedhis healing power. Jesus didnot thinkof miracles as aneasy way todoaway withsuffering inthe
world but only as a signto indicate the directioninwhich we must act to accept and bring inthe kingdomof God
inthe world.
Nowonder that by entrusting his missiontohis disciples, Jesus does not see themas doctors, highranking lead-
ers, liturgists or theologians, but only as healers: «proclaimthat the kingdomof Godis near: cure the sick, raise the dead,
cleanse lepers, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give». The first task of the followers of Jesus is not to
performliturgical acts of worship, develop theologies, preach morals, but to heal, to free fromevil and depression,
heal society, helptoliveinahealthyway. This therapeuticprogramis thewaytothekingdomof God.
It wouldbe enoughtointroduce the therapeutic dimensioninthe churchtohave everythingchange: the liturgy,
theology and pastoral action. Some things would collapse, others would be transformed, many would find more
evangelical outlets. Thedreamof Jesus wouldbefulfilled: healingcommunities inthemidst of society, asignof God
«thelover of life».
JosvAx1oxioP.coi.
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¡
Forgiveness as ahorizon

What causedmost scandal andhostility towards Jesus during his activity inGalilee was his friendshipwithsinners.
Never hadanything like it happenedinIsrael. No prophet hadgone to themwithanattitude of respect, friendship
andsympathy.What Jesus didwas unheardof. Theimpressionthat JohntheBaptist hadleft was verydifferent. John
haddenouncedsinners. He hadremindedthemof the punishment that awaitedthem, andhadintroduceda major
rite of purification and penance to free themfromsin. His activity did not scandalize anyone. It was what one ex-
pectedof aprophet, defender of thecovenant betweenGodandthepeople.
But what Jesus didwas difficult tounderstand. Hedidnot speakof thewrathof Godagainst sinners. Onthecon-
trary, according tohiminthe kingdomof Godthere was place for sinners, taxcollectors andprostitutes. He didnot
go to themin the name of an angry Judge, but in a friendly accepting manner, in the name of a compassionate Fa-
ther. Hedidnot threatenthemor urgethemtoundergoabaptismof repentance. Hewouldinvitethemtosit at table
withhim, andhe invitedthemtofollowhim. Howcoulda manof Godaccept themas friends without first requir-
ingtheir conversion? Howcouldtheyjoinhis movement without conditions for their entryput beforethem?
What shockedpeoplemost was toseehimat tableintheir company. It was inconceivableinsomeoneconsidered
«amanof God». Nodoubt it was aprovocativegesturethat Jesus deliberatelysought whichcausedanimmediatere-
actionagainst him. Thevarious sources faithfullyfirst reflect surprise: «What? Does he eat withtaxcollectors andsin-
ners»? andthentheaccusations of thosemost hostiletohim: «Look! Agluttonandadrunkard, afriendof sinners». He
does not knowhowtokeephis distance. Hehas noshame. Howcanhebehavelikethat?
The issue was explosive. To sit at table withsomeone is always a signof respect, trust andfriendship. Youdo not
eat withanyone at all. Everyone eats withtheir own: gentiles withgentiles, Jews withJews, the richwiththe rich, the
poor withthe poor, Pharisees withPharisees, the monks of Qumranwiththeir community. Apious, religious man
would never sit with sinners and prostitutes. To eat together at the same table is to belong to the same group. What
didJesus want tocommunicate? That hewas onthesideof sinners? That hebelongedtothesamegroup?
Jesus insistedoneatingwitheveryone. Nooneshouldfeel excluded. Therewas noneedtobepure. It was not nec-
essary towashyour hands. Disreputable people couldshare his table, evensinners wholivedoutside the Covenant.
Jesus excludednoone. Inthe kingdomof Godeverythingwill be different. Anacceptingcompassionwill substitute
anexcludingholiness. The kingdomof Godis anopentable where all cansit. Noneedtogather aroundseparate ta-
bles which exclude others in order to safeguard their own identity. The identity of the group of Jesus was precisely
not toexcludeanyone.
Probably there has never beenanyone onearthwhohas proclaimedwithsuchpower anddepth, the friendship,
forgiveness, and acceptance of God of those who forget or reject him. His message continues to resound for who-
ever wishes tolistentoit:
Whenyousee yourselves judgedbythe law, knowyouare understoodbyGod.
Whenyousee yourselves rejectedbysociety, knowthat Godaccepts you.
Whennoone forgives your unworthiness, feel the inexhaustible forgiveness of Godfor you.
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Youwill not deserve it. Noone deserves it. But Godis like that: love andforgiveness.
Donot ever forget this. Believe this GoodNews.
AgainJesus toldaparable. This timeabout amanwhoorganizedabigdinner. Naturallyhedidnot invite anyone
except his friends, richandinfluential people. But whenthe daycame andhis servant calledthemtoattendthe ban-
quet, they all made excuses and left himalone. The Master reacted in a surprising way. «There will be a banquet in
spite of everything». It occurred to himto invite those whomnobody invites: «the poor, the crippled and the lame»
wholivedinthe slums of the city. As there was still roomfor more he sent his servant outside the city tothe country
roads and lanes to call those who lived close to the walls: foreigners, vagrants, undesirable people, those who were
expelledfromthecityat night whenthegates areclosed.
Those wholistenedtoJesus couldnot believe their ears. Abanquet opentoall without previous lists of guests? A
table opentoall whodonot exclude themselves: menandwomen, the pure andthe impure, the holy andcriminals
eating together inthe company of God? Is it true that at the endthere is a feast inwhichGodwill be surroundedby
the poor, sinners and undesirable people? Is it true that God is preparing a grand final feast open to all who accept
his invitationfor heholds all as his friends worthytosharehis table?
JosvAx1oxioP.coi.
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