2022 Philippine Elections

[OPINION] Would Jesus of Nazareth have run for president?

Noel Asiones
[OPINION] Would Jesus of Nazareth have run for president?
'His chances of winning would be next to nil'

The ongoing frenetic campaign for the most coveted political position in our country today got me wondering about the famous man from the town of Nazareth. If Jesus were alive today, would he have run for president? I hope that this musing will contribute a bit to our collective desire to help one another make the wisest choice for the pivotal May 2022 national elections.

To the best of my relatively limited knowledge of him, I dare say that Jesus of Nazareth would have second thoughts about the prospect of wanting to be president of our country, or any country for that matter. It is mainly because all his life, he steered clear of what the Brazilian theologian, Leonardo Boff, in his book Jesus Christ: Liberator called the three hungers of the heart: wealth, fame, and power. Jesus seemed aware that freedom from them could make him more free for others and his Great Other, God.

First, aside from the fact that he was “only” a carpenter’s son, and age-wise (he was only 30 years old when he started his public service) not yet qualified to run for the presidency, the lack of vaunted money and machinery would have discouraged him from even thinking about it. His life was of such privation that he could say: the foxes have dens, the birds have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head (Mt 8:20). His chances of winning would be next to nil. He may have also asked his audience that if they want to support and vote for him, they better be free from hunger for wealth and consequently share in his condition of poverty. Those words must be hard pills to swallow for someone who appears, at first sight, to have nothing much to offer to get himself elected in terms of more dole-outs, free housing, or fighting corruption. Thus, presuming his audience did not immediately walk away upon hearing his incredible challenge, many of his potential voters, while affording him the benefit of the doubt, should have wondered, “So, what’s in it for me?”

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To answer a very legit question, Jesus would not brazenly declare stereotypical and more- of-the-same promises that he could not possibly keep if ever he gets elected. Instead, he would have asked them to check on his track record and platform: the lame walk, the blind sees, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the Good News is proclaimed to the poor (Matthew 11:5). In other words, Jesus will let his walk do the talk. Records show that he went around doing good (Acts 10: 38) not for the political mileage that he can get off it but for the sake of the weak and vulnerable, and so that the values of mercy, reconciliation, justice, and solidarity might eventually reign among them.

Second, Jesus was free from desire for the kind of power that can only breed deception, conflict, hatred, violence, and revenge. Thus, when the crowd wanted to make him king, he slipped away again into the hills by himself (John 6:15). Even before that, the Nazarene resolutely rejected the devil’s offer to rule all the kingdoms of the world in exchange for his filial relation with his Father (Matthew 4:1-11). Moreover, he would have refused the dirty game of politics because he was not pursuing greed, domination, exploitation, and corruption. In the words of Pope Francis, his was a healthy brand of politics as an act of radical love and courage toward the well-being of all.

Finally, assuming, for the sake of argument, that Jesus would be vying for the presidential seat, it will take nothing short of a miracle for him to win. Aside from not having the money and power, he did not seek the limelight, self-advertise, or seek the attention and admiration of the public so necessary to win an election. Always true to his talks, he did not let his left hand know what his right hand was doing (Matthew 6:3) while curiously warning his beneficiaries that they should not talk about them to anyone so as not to attract attention to himself (Matthew 9:30). Consequently, he could not have employed an army of trolls to spread fake news and misinformation about his identity and accomplishments.

[OPINION] Would Jesus of Nazareth have run for president?

Though it is almost sure that Jesus of Nazareth would never aspire to become president, he would most likely endorse the one candidate who has personified his words and deeds: the principles and values of leadership by example, a proven track record of honest and transparent public service, and radical love for and solidarity with those who have been, through no fault of their own, living and dying on the margins and peripheries of our society. – Rappler.com

Noel Asiones, PhD is an academic researcher from a leading university in Manila. He is a practitioner of public theology, which is the engagement and dialogue between institutional religion and society in the marketplace of ideas.

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