by Muggeridge

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Malcolm Muggeridge
Born in 1903, Malcolm Muggeridge has become one of the notable figures of the twentieth century. He is well-known as an author, journalist, media personality, and in his later years, a leading spokesman for Christianity. His upbringing was, as he termed it, "socialist;" his father was involved in politics and served as a member of Parliament. He attended Cambridge University, and after his graduation in 1924, went to India as a teacher. He returned to his native England in 1927, where he married Katherine (Kitty) Dobbs and worked as a substitute teacher. After six months, the young couple moved to Egypt to assume another teaching post. It was here in Egypt that Muggeridge's career as a journalist began in earnest, a life of writing that would include work for the Manchester Guardian , Calcutta Statesman , Evening Standard , Daily Telegraph , and other newspapers.

Malcolm and Kitty Muggeridge spent the fall and winter of 1932-33 in Moscow, where he was a correspondent for the Manchester Guardian . He witnessed the Ukranian famine and was the first western reporter to write truthfully about the resultant death and devestation. This sojourn in the Soviet Union ended Muggeridge's infatuation with Communism as a panacea for the ills of the world.

Returning briefly to England, he subsequently accepted a post in India as assistant editor for the Calcutta Statesman . While there he completed a biography of Samuel Butler. During the Second World War, Muggeridge joined the Army Intelligence Corps and served in Mozambique, Italy, and France. Resuming his career as a journalist following the war, he spent almost two years in Washington, DC as a correspondent for the London Daily Telegraph.

Muggeridge's wit and style endeared him to many as he became a popular (and controversial) figure on radio and television. From 1953-57 he served as editor of the British humor magazine Punch . During the 1960s this former Socialist and vocal agnostic gradually modified his positions on religion and became a Christian. This journey is recorded in his book Jesus Rediscovered . From that time his writings reflect his increasingly orthodox stance on matters of faith. In 1983 Malcolm and Kitty Muggeridge became members of the Roman Catholic Church.

In his latter years, Muggeridge expressed a growing concern about moral and ethical issues. He opposed abortion and euthanasia while supporting the rights of the mentally and physically handicapped. His opposition to birth control led to his controversial resignation as Rector of Edinburgh University. He was greatly influenced by Mother Theresa of Calcutta and her efforts on behalf of the forgotten people of the world. She is the subject of his book Something Beautiful for God.

A leading Christian apologist, Muggeridge is sometimes cited as the G. K. Chesterton of the latter twentieth century. There appears to be a widening audience hungering for his sometimes cynical, yet always insightful opinions.

Malcolm Muggeridge, after a fruitful life of constant interaction and tension with life, entered eternal rest November 14, 1990.

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by Malcolm Muggeridge

Jesus was not, in our contemporary sense, an idealist, and gives no intimation of believing that the world could be made better on its own terms, any more than that individual human beings could make themselves better on their own terms. Just as they needed to be reborn, so the world would be reborn with the coming of God's Kingdom. Jesus came among us precisely to show how men could be reborn, and to proclaim the coming of the Kingdom, whose final realization might be expected when history ended; an eventuality whose precise timing could not be known in advance, so everyone should live in a perpetual state of readiness for it. Otherwise, we had to accept the world as it was, recognizing that the children of this world, the Herods and the Pilates and the Caiaphases, would never be induced to function on a basis of Jesus' Beatitudes. Nor should Jesus' own children of light expect to be as wise in their generation as the others. Rather, they must take stock of the mammon of unrighteousness; for otherwise, Who will commit to your trust the true riches? To understand the conduct of this world's affairs, that is to say, we must look to the experts - the Machiavellis, the de Tocquevilles, the Swifts - thereby qualifying for initiation into celestial realpolitik where Jesus' principles prevail. In the same sort of way, a clean window helps us to look more clearly into Eternity, and a good time-keeper to attune ourselves the better to the exigencies of everlasting life.

I cannot see that Jesus ever advocated a reform of any kind, or supported any human cause, however enlightened. His teaching ranged between the sublimest mysticism and the bluntest realism, leaving out the middle-ground, the lush pastures of liberalism and goodwill, where editorialists and Media pundits graze, and a stifling sirocco wind of rhetoric endlessly blows. He gave us, not a plan of action, nor even a code of ethics, certainly not a programme of reforms, but those wonderfully illuminating contradictions of his - the first to be the last, the poorest the richest, the weakest the strongest, the most obscure the most celebrated. He silenced the stridency of the ego, freed the elbows and unharnessed the shoulders from their urge to push and shove, abated the will's rage and the flesh's obduracy. The meek, he told us, would inherit the earth, and he showed us how to be meek, humility being the very condition of virtue. Then, along with this heavenly roller-coaster ride whose tickets are only available for those who cannot pay, there is the hard, gritty, abject wisdom of the world, also with its own kind of appeal, and even charm, especially as conveyed in Jesus' parables. For instance, the laborers in the vineyard, early trade unionists, who grumbled because, when they received their contractual wage, they found that others who had come later on to the job were being paid the same amount. Or the children in the market-place whom there was no pleasing; to piping they would not dance, and to wailing they would not mourn. Or the prodigal son who, having wasted his patrimony on riotous living, returned home broken and penitent, only to find his father had prepared a great feast in his honor, to the understandable fury of his virtuous brother. Or the man who, coming late at night to borrow some bread from a friend, is told for his pains: Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee; but who still goes on asking, until at last the other does rise and give him as many loaves as he wants, not because they are friends, but because of his importunity, the moral being: Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you - words of rare comfort. Or the leaven that is like the Kingdom of Heaven because it makes the soggy dough rise, to become light crusty bread. Or the light that is not to be put under a bushel but on a candlestick, so that it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Or the merchantman in search of goodly pearls who, when he found one of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it. Or the man with a hundred sheep who, when one of them has gone astray, goes after that one, and when he has found it, rejoiceth more of that sheep, than the ninety and nine that went not astray.

I will arise and go to my
father, and will say unto him,
Father, I have sinned against
heaven, and before thee, And
am no more worthy to be
called thy son.

This practical wisdom in Jesus' parables cannot be faulted. Through all history's changes, the revolutions and counter-revolutions, the rise and fall of great ones, it has continued to be valid. Take, for instance, what he tells us about money; a key matter at all times and in all circumstances. In the first place, there is his statement that the poor are blessed. Today, this amounts to blasphemy. Set up in type, it will positively melt the lead; pronounced in a television studio, it will cause a deathly hush, making the lights go out, the floor-manager drop dead, and the Director-General hurriedly issue an apology that so monstrous a perversion of truth should have been uttered on the air. The poor blessed! How in God's name can that be? It is a denial of our whole way of life; a contradiction of everything we believe in, of every single advertisement transmitted on every TV channel, or alluringly set forth in print and color; of everything said by every single politician and demagogue, of the contentions of every party and ideology. All of these say: Get rich and be happy. Riches bring everything desirable - travel, speed, the delights of love and every human bliss. How beautiful are the bodies of the rich as they run, laughing, into the sea! Or as they sit at the wheel of a fast car, or look at one another's perfection across a white table-cloth beside the blue Mediterranean, Gatsby-like in their whiteness and fragrance and freshness! Who in his senses could suppose the opposite state - poverty - is to be preferred? Poverty, as Bernard Shaw vehemently insisted, is dirty, squalid, unmanicured and ungroomed; not just unblessed, but a fall from grace, a sinful condition imposed by a cruel and unjust social system. Yet Jesus dared to say that the poor were blessed, and what is more, through the centuries the choicest spirits have not just agreed with him, but often, in order to participate in this blessedness, embraced poverty themselves in its extremist form. As blissful at being naked on the naked earth as others are at being tucked up in newly laundered linen sheets; as joyous in their lack of possessions as others are in their yachts, their convertibles, their swimming-pools.

My house shall be called
the house of prayer; but
ye have made it a den of

Affluence is a religion
With us, affluence is a religion. Supermarkets celebrate it - buy this in remembrance of me! Banks are its holy of holies - spend this in remembrance of me! The television studios are chapels-of-ease. I sat in one once with Mother Teresa in New York while she was questioned by a man in a mauve shirt with a drooping green moustache and sad eyes peering out through thick spectacle lenses. Every minute or so he broke off for a commercial. That morning they happened all to be recommending different packaged foods as being neither fattening nor even nourishing. Mother Teresa, thinking no doubt of the human skeletons she tried to clothe in a little flesh, listened with a kind of wonder, and then, in her soft but clearly audible voice, broke in to remark: 'I see that Christ is needed in television studios.' Everyone heard her, and a strange silence descended on the studio. I half expected an enraged figure to appear, rope in hand, as he had at the Temple of Jerusalem, to drive us all out into the street. On the previous occasion it was the money-changers; today, the advertisers. Surely he would come, eyes ablaze: You bastards! You and your guaranteed unnourishing bread! In the event, he did not come, but Mother Teresa's words about Christ being needed in television studios, I am sure, continued to echo in the hearts of all who heard them, perhaps serving a similar purpose. In his humanity, Jesus, like Swift, knew what it was to feel furious indignation lascerating his heart, and in the heat of it beat up the money-changers going about their lawful occasions; just as in his divinity he could tell us that the poor, their chief victims, were blessed. The writers of the Gospels, very creditably, evince no inclination to apologize for Jesus' humanity; nor, for that matter, to accentuate unduly his divinity. The Son of Man loses his temper, as sons of men do, while the Son of God keeps his, making us understand that the poor veritably are blessed, and the Kingdom of God theirs.

Then there is the case of the rich man, or ruler, who came to Jesus and, addressing him as Good Master, asked him what he could do to inherit eternal life. Was it a try-on? Or did he really want to know? I should suppose something between the two; that he was curious about Jesus, and anxious to find out what manner of man he was. So, he put to him a typical television interviewing question, designed, equally, to probe and to elucidate. Seated in the studio, knee to knee, the lights on, the boom-mike falling to within biting distance. Now - Action! Your Eminence, Your Grace, or just plain Bishop, 'what must we do to inherit eternal life?' Quite a stunner in its way, when he was all ready for: 'Why do you think the churches are emptying?' Or: 'How do you feel about the present thrust to ecumenism?' Hm, what was that? - why, yes, of course. . . . As though he had been asked whether he believed in monogamy, or disbelieved in apartheid. Jesus was obviously irritated by being addressed as Good Master. Why do you call me good?, he snapped. There is none good but one, that is God. Then, not giving the ruler time to respond to this rebuke, he goes on: Thou knowest the commandments. Do not kill. Do not steal. Do not bear false witness. . . . Honor thy father and thy mother. Yes, the ruler knew the commandments well, and, as a matter of fact, had kept them from his youth up. They are, after all, relatively easy to keep, especially if, as an Anglican bishop once suggested, they are regarded as an examination paper, with eight only to be attempted. At this point Jesus begins to love the man; you can see it coming on. He always ends by loving everyone - the woman of Samaria; little Zacchaeus, the villainous tax-gatherer lurking in the branches of a tree he had climbed to get a better view of Jesus, who, when he spotted him, mischievously called him down, and invited himself to dinner. (Who can invent such things? They have to be true.) Even Judas, who went so dolefully off to collect his money - a doleful enough errand for all of us; even his enemies who had nailed him on the Cross, the two-faced High Priest, feeble Pilate and cunning Herod, the sycophantic Sanhedrin men, the lordly Scribes and Pharisees, the yelling mob and the ribald soldiers, all, all, loved, and to be forgiven, for they know not what they do. It is our best hope; I cling to it -- that we know not what we do, even though we do know, perfectly well.

He saw a man, named
Matthew, sitting at the
receipt of custom: and
he saith unto him,
Follow me.

Still one thing is missing...
Jesus listened to the ruler's declaration of virtue, and then came the devastating remark, in a similar vein to the one to Martha: Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven. Jesus had a way of thus probing into the very soul. The ruler might just have managed to dispose of his possessions, great as they were, possibly working out some sort of charitable trust; house and gardens handed over to the public, with himself as custodian. It was the concluding words that were too much for him. Disposing of all his worldly goods was not the end of it; when that had been done there was the same call as to the disciples: Come, follow me. Matthew got up from his seat at the receipt of custom; the fishermen left their boats and their nets, took no luggage, said no good-byes, but went lumbering after their Master, who had promised them, with his familiar touch of irony, that thenceforth they would be catching, not fish, but men. For the ruler it was too much to ask; when he heard this he was very sorrowful, for he was very rich. Such superb pay-off lines occur quite often in the New Testament; perhaps the most devastating of all being St. Paul's comment on a lost friend: For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world. The ruler is heard of no more. What were his feelings, I wonder, at the time of the Crucifixion. Perhaps by that time he had forgotten his encounter with Jesus, married a new wife, appeared on television, become concerned about pollution of the environment and the population explosion.

There was a certain rich man,
which was clothed in purple
and fine linen, and fared
sumptuously every day:
And there was a certain beggar
named Lazarus, which was
laid at his gate, full of sores.

After the ruler had gone Jesus remarked on how difficult it is for the rich to enter into the Kingdom of God, using a comparison to illustrate his point that has become famous - that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get to Heaven. Has any single sentence in the New Testament been more mulled over than this one? If Jesus' statement is to be taken at its face value, then riches become, not merely, a dubious benefit, but positively disastrous. To rub in the point, there is the awful example of the beggar Lazarus, who sat miserably at a rich man's gate, and then went to Heaven, while the rich man in due course found himself roasting in Hell. From there he saw Lazarus resting on Abraham's bosom, but his appeals across the impassable gulf that lies between Heaven and Hell proved fruitless. Abraham told him that there was no way of helping him, and that he should remember how thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. More worldly wisdom, and a bleak prospect for the rich! To mitigate their fate the help of Biblical scholarship has been invoked, and the suggestion made that the eye of a needle to which Jesus referred was the name of one of the gates into Jerusalem; this gate being rather a tight squeeze for a camel to get through, especially if heavily loaded. No one need have worried; Jesus' somber account of the poor prospects for the rich in the hereafter do not appear to have seriously diminished in this world the lure of riches, which have continued to be avidly sought after despite the eye of the needle and what happened to Lazarus. The disciples clearly took Jesus' comment on his encounter with the ruler quite literally, and asked him whether it meant that there would be no rich men in Heaven - an eventuality they could doubtless face with equanimity. In purely human terms, this would be so, Jesus told them, but the things which are impossible with men are possible with God. It is the built-in proviso to all our presumptions. We can never be sure that anything is impossible, or for that matter, possible. God is the divine joker in our pack.

Lord, save us: we perish.

The real worry of the disciples was not about whether or not the rich man would get to Heaven, but about their own chances. Here, Jesus saw fit to reassure them. No one, he said, who had left his home and his family for the sake of the Kingdom of God but would receive more than his deserts in this world, and in the world to come everlasting life. Even then they continued to fret, and on another occasion asked Jesus who among them might have the privilege in Paradise of sitting on either side of him. On this point Jesus refused to be drawn, and said - another of the times when I imagine a twinkle in his eye - that such decisions on heavenly placement rest with God alone. The disciples were often quarrelsome and envious and cowardly; it is extraordinary what Jesus made of them - as though calculating that to found a universal religion, a church and a civilization out of such poor material would redound to God's greater glory. Very occasionally, he lost his temper with them; as when they were terrified while out in their boat during a storm on the Lake of Galilee, and came and woke him up, whereupon he rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. Or when he warned them against the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees, and they obtusely took him to be referring to their having run out of bread. Mostly, however, he was loving and considerate even when they failed him. There was, for instance, the occasion when the three disciples who had accompanied him to the Garden of Gethsemane fell asleep while he was praying, instead of keeping watch as he had asked. I see him looking at them as they lay on the ground, with the poignant abandonment of sleeping men (something I remember so well from barrack-hut days), mouths open, heads thrown back, features relaxed, limbs limp and inert. So vulnerable, so fragile, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Alas, no, not even that - looking at them as God has looked at His creatures through the eons; disappointment without end weighed against inexhaustible love.

The spirit indeed in willing,
but the flesh is weak.

Jesus appears not to have carried money with him ever. When he wanted to make his point about paying tribute to Caesar he called for a coin, presumably not having one himself. Equally, when he and the disciples were in Capernaum, and the question arose of paying the Temple tax - to which all Jews over nineteen were liable - he instructed Peter to go down to the Lake of Galilee, throw a line, and he would find that the first fish to bite had a coin in its mouth which would meet the tax for both of them. A Temple tax-collector, as some sort of a try-on, had approached Peter and asked him whether or not his Master paid the half-shekel due from him annually for Temple maintenance. Doubtless to avoid possible trouble, Peter said that he did. Later, Jesus with mock solemnity argued that he was not, in fact, liable. God's particular family, he insisted, should not be required to contribute towards the upkeep of His home. That was for outsiders. It was a thin argument, and the instruction to Peter none the less to pay the tax, getting the money out of a fish's mouth, suitably rounded it off. Significantly, there is no word in the Gospels of Peter actually carrying out Jesus' instructions and going to the Lake with his line. Galilee fishermen to this day show one the fish in question; a little fish with special rusty markings round its mouth. Somehow, when I was shown one, I found it very touching; the miraculous and the ordinary rub shoulders very charmingly, like sensuality and adoration in human love.

Credo quia impossible
is a wonderful saying. The more unlikely the miracle, the easier to believe; only the concrete and the factual invites skepticism. Compared with such banal statements as that two plus two equals four, or that nature abhors a vacuum, looking for the wherewithal to pay the Temple tax in a fish's mouth seems a delectable enterprise. In euphoric moments only the impossible will do. Thus, lovers instinctively turn to the miraculous to convey what they feel. In the same sort of way, in ages of faith the builders of churches drive their steeples recklessly into the sky. 'Give me a man in love', says St. Augustine. 'Give me one who yearns; give me one who is hungry; give me one far away in the desert who is thirsty and sighs for the spring of the Eternal. Give me that sort of man; he knows what I mean.' It was his love relationship with men which enabled Jesus to perform his miracles, and our love relationship with him that enables us to believe in them. Jesus compared a grain of seed, a tiny speck in the palm of his hand, to the Kingdom of Heaven. What a ridiculous comparison it would seem in the eyes of anyone who did not know what a seed is and what it can become! In point of fact, is there anything more miraculous in the universe? That tiny speck, planted in the earth, decomposing there, under the same necessity as we are to die in order to be reborn; then putting out shoots, becoming an ear of corn, a flower more gloriously attired than Solomon, a tree even, with birds nesting in its branches. Containing within its minute self all the mysterious potential of creation. No wonder Jesus compared it to the Kingdom of Heaven! No microscope however powerful, or computer analysis of seeds, their cultivation and crop-potential, helps us to understand the comparison; but down on our knees, full of the foolishness of love, straining after that light Jesus brought into the world, it becomes clear.

Though Jesus had no money himself, there were funds at his and the disciples' disposal, presumably contributed by well-wishers. Judas Iscariot looked after this money. Jesus insisted from the beginning that the service of mammon was not compatible with God's; one or the other had to be chosen. Love of money constituted a servitude, for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Giving money away should be secret, the left hand not knowing what the right one is doing. Jesus contrasted the ostentatious alms of the Pharisees with the widow's mite, which meant so much more to her than their lavish offering because it was her all. In other words, money has no intrinsic value, but only a relative one; the widow's mite was, in this sense, literally more than the Pharisees' munificence. The doom of the rich was to believe in their riches; like the man who stocked up his barns and storehouses with his crops' abundance, and thought then to settle down to eat, drink and be merry, only to have his soul required of him that very night. So, we should not lay up for ourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal. The only lasting treasure is spiritual, as the only perfect freedom is serving God.

All these maxims have been piously quoted and believed through the centuries, but none the less the love of money continues to be, as St. Paul wrote to Timothy, the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. There are no recorded cases of men being made happy by money, and yet they continue to respond to its allure. Jesus knew this and took due account of it; on the one hand, recognizing that the mammon of unrighteousness was an inescapable factor in human life, and on the other preparing the way for the great love-affairs with poverty of Christians like St. Francis which have revealed the startling beauties of austerity, the fabulous riches of deprivation, the sheer abundance and variety that the life of the spirit offers when it has been pruned of all the dead wood, sterile blooms and parasitic growths that carnality accumulates. In these terms Christians have sought poverty as ardently as any gold-prospector his pay-dirt. Likewise chastity, which offers ecstasies as far transcending those of the flesh as Donne's poem 'The Ecstasy' transcends Fanny Hill. Jesus did not just ask us to control our cupidity and sensual appetites; he generated a no less ardent propulsion in the opposite direction, as the life force operating in the growth of trees and plants and all vegetation opposes the force of gravity - one pushing upwards and outwards and the other pulling downwards. At his instance, sated, we pine for abstinence, and stifling in the labyrinthine maze of sex, for chastity. Not to flee the world but to discover the world is Jesus' directive; and, once so found, and seen with his eyes, it has depths and splendors hitherto unnoticed - as a pretty face touched with affliction discloses its hidden beauty. If an eye offends pluck it out, Jesus counsels, not thereby becoming blind, but truly seeing; if a limb, amputate it, not thereby becoming crippled, but whole He came, he tells us, not to destroy life but that we may have it more abundantly. When abundance means the Dead Sea fruit of affluence, this saying is difficult to understand: yet I can say that I never knew what joy was until I gave up pursuing happiness, or cared to live until I chose to die. For these two discoveries I am beholden to Jesus.

So all earthly joys, even the homely ones of human love and work and companionship, pale into insignificance compared with this other joy that Jesus pre-eminently brought into the world, of escaping into reality from the fantasies of the will and the appetites where everything is upside-down and the wrong way round, the good wan and unwanted, the wicked pulsating and desirable, beauty a tired ghost, ugliness sparkling and alive. By contrast, in reality it is goodness that shines with a clear light, and evil that is dark and malodorous, while the present is sufficient unto itself only because it is the intersection of a horizontal and a perpendicular infinitude. In the light of contemporary attitudes, it must seem extraordinary that so much joy could have come of Jesus' seemingly harsh exigencies, whereas the return to pagan permissiveness has spread a dreadful gloom and boredom over the Western World. Does Scandinavia ring with happy laughter? Are the bearded and bra-less communards of California wreathed in smiles and given to dancing through the valleys wild? Do the campuses resound with joyous songs and sparkling words? Scarcely. It is something I have experienced, but cannot explain, that the world renounced glows in all its sounds and shapes and colors as never before; that eyes cast heavenwards catch the texture of flesh, the fold of cloth, the bloom of earthly beauty, as none earthwards bent can hope to attain, and that love seeking no possession, empty-handed, the ego's sting drawn and the blood's fire quenched, shines out like a rising sun filling the universe with warmth and light and rapture.

When Jesus was in Bethany with Lazarus and Martha and Mary, shortly before the last Passover in Jerusalem, an incident occurred which, as Jesus himself foresaw, was to become famous wheresoever this gospel {is} preached throughout the whole world. While Martha was preparing supper, Mary took a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment. At this Judas, as treasurer, protested, pointing out that the ointment could have been sold for a considerable sum and the money distributed to the poor. It is not at all surprising that the villain among the disciples should appear as the most socially concerned. The wicked are much given to collective moralizing, and the world's worst tyrants - for instance, Napoleon and Stalin and Hitler - usually consider themselves to be humanity's greatest benefactors, while terrorists like Torquemada and Dzerzhinsky and Himmler sanctimoniously see themselves as purifiers rather than destroyers. The position Judas took about Mary's squandering of the ointment on Jesus is precisely the same as that taken today by those who clamor for the sites of city churches and the treasures of the Vatican to be sold and the proceeds given to the poor. If the builders of the city churches and the accumulators of the Vatican treasurers had been of the same opinion, there never would have been any sites or treasures to sell, so we must be thankful that their attitude was more like Jesus' than his betrayer's.

Jesus responded to Judas' criticism by making one of his jokes; Mary, he said, in anointing him, had simply been a little precipitate, and got in ahead of his burial. As it turned out, not very precipitate; just a matter of days. In confuting Judas' criticism of the extravagance involved in anointing him with expensive ointment, Jesus again delivered himself of a remark about the poor - The poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always - which some of his twentieth-century followers have found distressing in its implications. As in the other case - the Beatitude about the poor being blessed - various not very convincing attempts have been made to iron it out into conformity with contemporary attitudes. History, in any case, has vindicated Jesus' observation in the sense that the poor are with us still - taking the world scene, just now in ever greater numbers - and are likely to remain so. Again, it is Jesus who has proved the realist, and the believers in an earthly paradise who have been deceived. Pie in the sky may seem illusory, but even more so is pie on the earth.

She began to wet his feet with
tears, and did wipe them with
the hairs of her head, and kissed
his feet, and anointed them with
the ointment

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"I can say that I never knew what joy was until I gave up pursuing happiness, or cared to live until I chose to die. For these two discoveries I am beholden to Jesus."