What Jesus Would Do

That now-canonized Roman Catholic nun Mother Teresa beseeched Judge Lance Ito  (yes, the Los Angeles Superior Court judge who presided over the 1995 O.J. Simpson murder trial) before he sentenced convicted savings-and-loan mogul Charles Keating who had defrauded thousands of pensioners of millions of dollars in the infamous 1980s’ savings-and-loan scandal “to pray, to look into (his) heart, and to do what Jesus would do”  is not news.

Mother Teresa’s letter http://howgoodisthat.wordpress.com/2008/07/13/charles-keating-gave-other-peoples-money-to-mother-teresa/lettertoito/ is included in recently deceased author Christopher Hitchens’ much reviewed 1995 book,  The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice   http://www.amazon.com/Missionary-Position-Mother-Teresa-Practice/dp/1455523003

What is significant is that the poorly spelled and undated letter, which contains a court stamp of Jan. 27, 1992, was written on the “Missionaries of Charity” letterhead which includes the words, “As long as you did it to one of these My least brethren.  You did it to Me.”

That warning, reminder, admonition or whatever it is intended to be is, no doubt, a paraphrase of the King James New Testament version of Matthew 25:40 http://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/Matthew-25-40/ , which says, “And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” 

Included in a post on “Niti Central” is Keating prosecuting attorney Paul Turley’s letter to the vaunted nun http://www.niticentral.com/2013/03/06/mother-teresa-was-no-saint-52605.html, which said:

“I read your letter to Judge Ito, written on behalf of Mr Keating, which includes your admission that you know nothing about Mr Keating’s business or the criminal charges presented to Judge Ito. I am writing to you to provide a brief explanation of the crimes of which Mr Keating has been convicted, to give you an understanding of the source of the money that Mr Keating gave to you, and to suggest that you perform the moral and ethical act of returning the money to its rightful owners.

“Mr Keating was convicted of defrauding 17 individuals of more than $900,000. These 17 persons were representative of 17,000 individuals from whom Mr Keating stole $252,000,000. Mr. Keating’s specific acts of fraud were that he was the source of a series of fraudulent representations made to persons who bought bonds from his company and he also was the repository of crucial information which he chose to withhold from bond purchasers, thereby luring his victims into believing they were making a safe, low-risk investment. In truth and in fact, their money was being used to fund Mr. Keating’s exorbitant and extravagant lifestyle.

“It is not uncommon for ‘con’ men to be generous with family, friends and charities. Perhaps they believe that their generosity will purchase love, respect or forgiveness. However, the time when the purchase of ‘indulgences’ was an acceptable method of seeking forgiveness died with the Reformation.

“You urge Judge Ito to look into his heart – as he sentences Charles Keating – and do what Jesus would do. I submit the same challenge to you. Ask yourself what Jesus would do if he were given the fruits of a crime; what Jesus would do if he were in possession of money that had been stolen; what Jesus would do if he were being exploited by a thief to ease his conscience?

“I submit that Jesus would promptly and unhesitatingly return the stolen property to its rightful owners. You should do the same. You have been given money by Mr Keating that he has been convicted of stealing by fraud. Do not permit him the ‘indulgence’ he desires. Do not keep the money. Return it to those who worked for it and earned it! If you contact me I will put you in direct contact with the rightful owners of the property now in your possession.”

According to Hitchens and all other sources I looked at the good Mother never graced Deputy District Attorney Turley with a reply.

So why dredge all that up now?

So far as I’m concerned, I’m not. But countless other Americans are — with every assertion that the United States is a Christian nation, with every Senator’s or Representative’s vote in Congress that harms or could help “the least of these my brethren”, with every athlete’s public display when he drops a knee to the ground and raises a finger skyward, with every political candidate needing to assert her or his Christian bona fides to have half a chance of winning an election.

And, given that this country operates on the “rule of law”, in every court filing, settlement and verdict.

Or does the United States’ brand of Christianity approximate Mother Teresa’s –when it reflects financial, and possibly political, expediency?

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