Wednesday, August 06, 2014

"For me (and as I have found for my students) one of the clearest, most convincing, and most challenging ways of grasping and proclaiming the uniqueness of Jesus in our present world has come from my dear friend Aloysius Pieris, S.J., a Sri Lankan scholar and missionary.  In Aloy's poetic way of putting it: 'Jesus is God's defense pact with the poor.'  Like other religious leaders and founders, Jesus experienced God or the Ultimate as the power of love.  But what was distinctive of Jesus' experience was that this God who loves everyone has a particular, perhaps we can say 'preferential' or more pressing, love for those people in every society who have been stepped on, pushed aside, neglected, or exploited.  Jesus embodied this preferential, pressing love for the poor and hungry and cast-aside even to the point of dying like one of them--that is, like any one of them would have been disposed of had they woken up and spoken up against the ruling powers.  The God embodied in Jesus suffers not only for the victims of the world; this God suffers like them and with them. ... Christianity is a religion that reminds its followers and all other religions that to know God is to be concerned about the victims of our world and about how we are to reconcile victims and victimizers. ... Pieris has told me that when he talks to his Buddhist, Hindu, and Muslim friends about the uniqueness of Jesus in this way--as God's defense pact with the poor--they hear it as 'good news,' not as something that belittles them but as something that enriches them."

--Paul F. Knitter, Without Buddha I Could Not be a Christian


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