Springingtiger's Blog


Jesus of the East End

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                Picture: Corrie Martin

Many people have been excited by a new gable end painting in the East End of Glasgow. I first saw it on the Facebook Group Lost Glasgow. The painting by the local artist known as ‘Smug’ shows a bearded man in a red bobble hat, a robin sits on his finger another robin appears to be about to land on his collar. The man’s head appears to have a halo around it.

The picture reminded me of a poem by Sean Wright I came across as a student called ‘When Jesus Came to Birmingham’ which suggested that were Jesus to return to Earth today. The people of Britain wouldn’t have to crucify him they’d kill him with indifference.

When Jesus came to Birmingham, they simply passed Him by.
They would not hurt a hair of Him, they only let Him die;
For men had grown more tender, and they would not give Him pain,
They only just passed down the street, and left Him in the rain.’
(When Jesus came to Birmingham – Sean. Wright)

Many cultures have stories of God walking among humans in disguise. Sometimes it is a king like Harun Al Raschid who adopts the disguise to discover what is really happening in the kingdom. The disguised God comes to test the subject of the story so Shiva disguised as a handsome sadhu tries to seduce Parvati to test her devotion to Shiva. Jesus appears to Saint Francis of Assisi in the guise of a leper to test the truth of the saint’s non attachment. In the Tale of the Leper, the Bald Man, and the Blind Man attributed to the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh and indeed on all the prophets)  it is an angel who appears in disguise to test the men’s gratitude to God.
There are many such stories in the world.

The real message of the stories is not the apparent one that we must behave ourselves because anyone we meet may be God. Not is it that we should treat others well in case they are God come to test us. It is rather that we should treat each other with the same respect as we should treat God merely because life deserves respect. I am very fond of Jesus thing in Matthew 25 that “whatever you do to the last of these you do to me’. It doesn’t matter whether God exists or whether he disguises himself to test people the manner in which we test others is the truth of who we are. When we honour our world and all in it as if it were all divine seeking nothing in return, we elevate ourselves in turn. Our nobility is not a gift from God, but comes from within ourselves and manifests in our conduct.

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