"So some Palestinian walks into town - beard, sandals, looks like a terrorist, right? Says that God can be directly experienced by everyone, without rich, powerful clergymen or their politician buddies. And when folks want to exchange money at our convenient in-Temple banking centers - which is their God-given right - he calls it an abomination. He's part of the war on Passover! What can you do with a guy like that but string him up, right? I'm Bill O'Reilly and this is the No-Spin Zone."
Imagine that Jesus is what they said He was: the Son of God who was born in poverty, an outsider born to an outsider people. The Israel of his time was a desolate outpost in the Roman Empire. No doubt some Centurions saw the Jews as "camel jockeys" - those oppressed citizens of a sand-strewn Imperial ghetto.
Jesus was an outcast among outcasts because of the questions of his parentage and His birth to a teenaged mother. He would eventually die a criminal, a political and spiritual revolutionary, a troublemaker.
Now imagine that He chooses to return again - not as the conquering White Horse Rider from Revelations, an image designed to appeal to Romans (who traditionally paraded conquering generals through Rome on a white horse), but the way He came before: as an outcast with a message about the immediacy and universality of God's love.
Ask yourself the question: How would Fox News cover His life?
Remember: He's coming back the way He came before, in secret. So He might be a Jew again, or He might pick an even more disliked minority religion - Muslim, maybe. Or Unitarian. He might be a woman this time. Would He be born to a teenaged mother again - maybe in Detroit this time, or in Watts?
He might come back as one of the "burakamin" in Japan, or as a Tibetan in China, a Pakistani in London, a Chicano in LA, a !Kung in Botswana. As a woman in Saudi Arabia, or a gay man in Idaho. Or an Arab in any American city. Maybe his family's last name would be the same as one of the villains from "24" or "Sleeper Cell."
He would say what He said before, when He turned the water into wine: Everything is sacramental if you're open to the divine, whether it's been blessed by the authorities or not. He would fight the Sanhedrin of his time - the Falwells and Robertsons, the television preachers in their shining megachurches (sorry, we'll be closed this Christmas!), those who would close off the doors to God and pretend to speak in His name.
And He would reject the politicians, too, and the wealthy. He or She ... this irritating, rebellious, subversive preacher from the ghetto or the souk.
"Happy Holidays," He would say. Why? Because for him all are welcome to the Kingdom of God, not just a few. He embraced the Samaritan last time he was here - that representative of an outcast religion. This time He would surely reach out to the Hindu, the Buddhist, the Muslim, the Jain, the Jew - and the atheist. He would welcome the stranger at the door. "Happy holidays," He would say.
"But aren't you the One this holiday is named for?" His followers would ask. "Yes," he would answer, "but the rejecters and haters aren't acting in My name, because they're not listening to my words." Since He had returned in a new human life, he would have a new name anyway. It would be the spirit, not the name, that mattered.
"This lunatic," O'Reilly and Gibson would say, "is an enemy of Christmas. And a terrorist who destroys moneychanger's property." With Falwell and Robertson nodding approvingly, they would call for extreme measures. "Time," they would say, "for an execution."
(And, just in case there's any doubt, let me be clear: Yes, I am saying that Bill O'Reilly would crucify the living Jesus if he ever had the opportunity. And that John Gibson would pat him on the back while he did it, with Falwell and Robertson's approval. Don't like it, guys? Too bad.)
And when that execution finally took place (because, remember, we have a government that's pro-death penalty and "tough on crime" - except the white-collar kind)? It would be carried live ... on Fox.
Luke 8:58: And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.
UPDATE: To those who have written me to explain that Jesus would have acted fiercely toward our country today because of its "tolerance" of abortion and its rejection to prayer in the schools, I refer them to this source document: a searchable King James Bible. The words "abortion" and "prayer in the schools" do not appear. (And they call themselves strict interpreters of the Bible!)
To those who cite Bill O'Reilly's self-professed opposition to the death penalty I say, Tell it to the 30,000 Iraqi dead (probably more) as a result of the war he supports. Any guy who wants Al Qaeda to murder San Franciscans because he doesn't like the way they vote is not "opposed to the death penalty" - he'd impose it for the wrong politics. Oh, yeah - he'd take the Savior down if he had the chance ...