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 Blooming Stars

Christ, the True Communist

            After returning to India in 2006 after a long stay in the US, I was visited in my ashram by three communist leaders who solicited funds for a lavish party office in our district. I told them that I was beyond party politics, and that I in principle do not contribute to any parties as I do my own works of charity. One of the leaders before leaving said that this was his first experience in all years of not receiving any contribution. Before their leaving I also told them that Christ’s immediate as described in the Acts of the Apostles?! The disciples “were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had everything in common… There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were possessors of land or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet; and distribution was made to each as any had need” (Acts, 4: 32-35; also refer 2: 44-46).

            The only spiritual master (Sadguru) who made the real distinction between the world that he lived in and the Kingdom of God he preached is Christ. And the world of his time was not any different from the world we live in. He said:”If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you”. He was rejected because the Jewish community of the time, the so-called chosen people, that he grew up in could not stomach his teachings. The High Priest at the time wanted him dead for the sake of the nation. Christ declared his mission very early in his publiclife. “The Spirit of the Lord anointed me to preach the good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to the captives, to bring new sight to the blind, and to set the downtrodden free, and to announce a year of Lord’s favor” (Luke, 4: 18-19). Christ had a preferential option for the poor. In his famous sermon on the mount he said: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew, 4: 3). To a rich man who asked as to what he should do to inherit eternal life, Christ told him to observe the commandments. When he told that he observed all the commandments from his youth on, Christ said to him: “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” But when he heard this he became sad, for he was very rich. Christ looking at him said: “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Luke 18: 18-25).

            I have criticized unbridled capitalism on occasions. I am heartened to hear that recently Pope Francis was labeled a Marxist on account of his criticisms of unbridled capitalism. He commented that if he is branded as a communist when he preached Gospel values, then communists ‘stole’ Christian ideals. There is no doubt that the Communist Manifesto on class struggle between capital and labor published in 1848 paved the way for many urgently needed labor reforms and movements. The Manifesto considered also papacy among others to be an enemy of labor. Rerum Novarum (Of Revolutionary Change) or Rights and Duties of Capital and Labor, the famous encyclical of Pope Leo XIII, came in 1891, 43 years later than the Manifesto. The communists took over the championing of the causes of the downtrodden by Christ. Over the years the oppressive, authoritarian communism with murder politics miserably failed. Sadly the official Church over the years, opportunistically for small worldly favors, sabotaged the powerful mission of Christ to the downtrodden by siding with the mighty and the powerful (immoral monarchs, dictators, colonialists, slave-traders, exploiters of labor). While Christ always spoke for the poor and the downtrodden, the same cannot be said about the Church that represents him on earth. In an immoral world where the names of the richest persons in the world are constantly flaunted before us and celebrated in the media at the expense of the hungry millions, things have to drastically change certainly non-violently before violent revolutions that guillotined oppressive and powerful monarchs in prior centuries. Civilization oppressed by rampant corruption all over is crying for a new world order. All have a social responsibility to take care of all as the early Christian communities. Private ownership needs to have a social responsibility. There should be no amassing of wealth beyond an optimum, reasonable limit. One should be able to create a trust at will, and dissolve it at will. A non-profit trust needs not have any tax benefits. We should be bold enough to begin with a limited but serious experiment of a Gandhian model of trusteeship of property. Certainly Christ would like that, a true and original communist that he was.

 

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