The Last Supper and our Macro-Miracles

6. 4. 2018

The Miracles of Jesus were micro-miracles – they radically changed the lives of individuals, but did not impact mankind at large.

Jesus cured the leprous, but did not cure leprosy. He fed thousands of starving, but did not eliminate famine. He left that task to us… Our generation made the macro-miracle of eradicating leprosy happen. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aim to make such miracles more common.

During the Last Supper, two thousand years ago, Jesus bade farewell to his nearest and dearest in order to perform a miracle of salvation for those far away. Yet the miracles of Jesus were micro-miracles – they radically changed the lives of individuals, but did not impact mankind at large (except for the aforementioned salvation). Therefore Jesus cured the leprous but did not cure leprosy. He fed thousands of starving people, but did not eliminate famine. He left that task to us.

Strictly speaking, leprosy has been cured in our generation thanks to the dedicated and inconspicuous work of scientists, politicians and people working in the field. We accomplished a miracle – check. Instead of 44 percent of the world population living in extreme poverty (as in 1980), today it is less than 10 percent. The elderly are no longer dependent on the benevolence of their children and grandchildren; the poor receive social support instead of alms. Our morality (as far as caring for others is concerned) migrates from individuals to institutions. The people of today live more for external deeds than internal self-betterment. Indeed, Jesus never said “the kingdom of God is within you”, as the popular version of theology makes us believe, rather he said “the kingdom of God is in your midst”. There are many things in our midst, but mostly they are institutions.

It is difficult to say whether we, as individuals, are morally better humans than past generations were – but our institutions definitely are. Mankind has never been interested in doing good to the extent preached by a person like Christ. Even though the United Nations or the World Bank can be criticised in certain respects, these and similar institutions nonetheless exist to promote the common good for all mankind, rather than to serve a particular nation, race, religion or worldview.

Global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are more about moral sustainability than mere environmental sustainability. They include the elimination of poverty, diseases, ensuring justice, care for the elderly, access to education, equal opportunities for men and women and so on.

These Global Goals (once the mere realm of visionaries) are voluntarily adopted by many organisations – from states to companies, banks and individuals, and all those who wish for the world to right its course. One of the most passionate advocates in this regard is U2 singer Bono – his nickname itself meaning “Good”. You and your company can be part of that good, too.

And it is no utopian hippie dream – the ambitious goals can be met. The Czech Republic is doing quite well in this regard in comparison with other nations. Each year, it has managed to reduce child mortality by 4 percent. This is a much more important, more tangible, and better indicator than the vaunted news about GDP growth we all follow so closely.

The message of Jesus offers more than spiritual value. Two-thirds of his teachings focus on socioeconomic issues. Which is why it is suitable to have an excellent young scientist and biologist, whose work contributes to the betterment of the world (19-year-old biochemist Karina Movsesjan), depicted at the centre of a re-enactment of the Last Supper by photographer Pavlína Saudková. Such battles for justice and equality were also once the dreams of our very own Jan Amos Komenský.

Saving the poor in Africa used to be beyond the abilities and priorities of our economic way of doing business. But today civilisation is more empathic; plus ethical conduct has become easier – it can be calculated as a percentage of the income of the wealthy.

There are still too many children in this world who go to bed without dinner – and for whom supper might be their last meal in the same nightmarish sense as it was for Jesus. We should do our best to achieve this macro-miracle in our lifetimes.

Zdroj: Hospodářské noviny, březen 2018, přeloženo z ČJ, originál dostupný ZDE.

Autor: Tomáš Sedláček, ekonom a ambasador pro SDG 8 – Důstojná práce a ekonomický růst