Last week Chicagoans would take Blue, Red, and Green line trains, CTA buses, and taxis, Chicago's "beasts of burden," so to speak, on their way to occupy a would be make shift temple, and in order to confront a man and a movement who could not be allowed to occupy such space. Not in their city. Citizens concerned with the vile rhetoric and increasingly violent action attached to the insidious Donald Trump presidential campaign converged on the UIC Pavilion, in order to "cleanse" their city of a demagogue and his proposed policies that would enact suffering for their most vulnerable neighbors.
Chicago, in a profound way, prepared American Christians for their imminent observance of Palm Sunday earlier, and perhaps better than any Lenten calendar or study series could hope to. If the Church takes a bit of time to really look, it knows quite well the story of what happened at Trump's rally in Chicago, because it is reflective of a direct action that Jesus demonstrates in Gospel narrative accounts of his life. Gospel readers see the culmination of Jesus' life and ministry as he and his disciples approach Jerusalem in Luke, and in Matthew. Jesus requests that his companions go, and secure for him a beast of burden, but one yet unused, so that he might ride the beast toward the center of the city, and through crowds of people, ahead of the Passover observance. Think lots of people. And lots of people shouting.
Not long after riding such a beast into the center of what we might understand to be a great rally, a great and pious observance, Jesus enters even further into the center of where everything is to happen. The Temple. There, Jesus confronts men who have presented themselves to a captive society as the people's best representatives of God among them...the most fit to lead, among the religious. Jesus knows that this is a lie. Jesus knows that Godliness is not represented by taking people's money for the sake of edifying oneself, and presenting such exchanges as good. Jesus knows that blaming the poor, the sick, and the displaced for their own suffering is evil.
Jesus cannot and does not let the "rally" of these idolaters go on in the Temple. He violently over turns the tables that have received money stolen from the people of Israel, and he makes a whip and chases men who have paraded evil as being Godly out of a place where they do not belong. Not even for a solitary second does the Gospel let us believe that Jesus cared much about the legal right of those powerful men to be there. They had to go. In the name of God, they had to go.
Donald Trump has suggested that among those running to be our next president, he will be the very best representative of Christianity. Jesus knows that this is a lie. And it is. Donald Trump wants to use money that he has, in many cases, exploited from the pockets of Americans and our neighbors, in order to implement policies that will kill. With a voice that many are willing to hear, Trump gladly blames the most vulnerable members of our society for their own, and our Nation's collective problems. That's not the way of our God, that is not Christian representation. It is evil. It is sin. And he's gotta go, in the name of Jesus.
To read more about 'What Jesus Would Do AboutTrump," follow the work of Susan Thistlthwaite at #OccupyTheBible. #WWJDAT
Follow Rev. Thistlethwaite on Twitter @sbthistle