Yes, please do so.
This post is about a certain Bible story as well as a legend about a guy named Christopher. The Bible story and the legend have much in common. Both of them constitute an enlightened spiritual vision as well as a radical ‘call to arms,’ so to speak---a powerful call to arms for social and economic justice, a call to end oppression, discrimination, bigotry, injustice, inequality, poverty, homelessness, statelessness, starvation, sickness, and suffering of all other kinds.
I love both the Bible story and the legend. Perhaps both are legends. It does not matter. The ‘message’ is eternal, and ever-so-relevant to today’s world.
In the 25th chapter of Matthew’s Gospel we read that the personality, essence, and ‘spirit’ of the Divine as revealed in the person of Jesus Christ can be experienced even today as a living presence, for it is said that Jesus comes to us, and visits us, in our homes and in our communities. Most of all, he comes to us in the lives of those who are in great need, those who are marginalized, those whom society tends to reject and ignore.
If I have a theology at all it is very much a 'theology of man,' and it goes something like this. The Bible says that all are made in the image and likeness of the Divine. Therefore, invoking the language of Christianity, everyone we meet, everyone we serve, is in the image of Jesus. Roman Catholics understand this so much better than Protestants. Yes, the ‘Anonymous Christ,’ as it is known, comes to us in so many ways and, again invoking a Christian metaphor, we fail to recognize that the incarnation of the Christ was not a one-off event but continues all the time, both in us and in other people. Now, we read in Matthew 25:34-40:
Now, here's something very important. The Way of Jesus, which is simply the way of love (for love is the nature and character of the 'Anonymous God' that has many, many names but really has no name as such at all), can be found in all religions and even outside of religion as well. You see, morality and ethics, as well as love, do not depend upon Christianity or upon any religion at all for that matter. Let’s get that perfectly clear once and for all. Okay? Ignore all those who would tell you something altogether different. They believe that they or their ‘god’ has a monopoly on the truth. Rubbish!
Here from Catholic Christianity is a story---actually, a legend---that I like very much. It concerns Saint Christopher (literally, ‘Christ-bearer’) [pictured], the so-called patron saint of travelers, and also especially revered by mariners and ferrymen. As a rather long aside (please forgive me) I remember when I was a young university student back in the early 1970s. I bought and brought home a Saint Christopher medal. I was not then a Catholic, my parents and I all being Protestants. They were much, more nominal in their faith than I was. I have always been incurably interested in religion, even when I have been opposed to it. My parents weren't for the most part, but they were quite anti-Catholic. It was a generational and sectarian phenomenon, and it was quite common. I am glad that sort of silly nonsense has now largely gone. Anyway, I would later convert to Catholicism---after the death of both my parents---when my life was in a horrible mess. My poor parents would have died much earlier than they did----they died far too young in any event---had I converted to the Catholic faith while they were still alive. Anyway, I brought home this rather cheap and nasty Saint Christopher medal, and my mother said to me, ‘What do you have that silly thing for? He is no longer a saint.’
Now, after Christopher had performed this service for some time, a little child asked him to take him across the river. As Christopher forded the river crossing, the river became swollen, and the child seemed as heavy as lead, indeed steadily increased in weight , so much so that Christopher could scarcely carry him and found himself in great difficulty. Yes, Christopher found his tiny burden so heavy that it was almost impossible to bear. When Christopher finally reached the other side, he said to the child: ‘You have put me in the greatest danger. I do not think the whole world could have been as heavy on my shoulders as you were.’ The child (the ‘holy babe’) replied, ‘You had on your shoulders not only the whole world but Him who made it. I am Christ your king, whom you are serving by this work.’ According to the legend, the child then vanished, but it is said that as a reward for his service Christopher's staff was miraculously transformed into a living tree, and Christopher himself became the patron saint of travellers.
You know, there is a wonderful Christian group known as the Christophers. Their motto is, 'It's better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.' That's so true. Perhaps this verse from the Bible best sets out the 'message' of the story of Saint Christopher: 'Bear one another's burdens and so you will fulfill the Law of Christ' (Gal 6:2). And what is the 'Law of Christ'? It is the law or principle---and power---of love in action. No matter what your religion, and even if you have none, the practice of love is the all-important thing.
THE NOBLE ART OF DRAGON-SLAYING