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If Jesus had played chess, there would be one rule that he would have rarely employed: en passant. For non-chess players, it is where one player’s smallest piece, the pawn, attempts to evade capture by pulling a deft passing move. (Think of how you change position, whenever you pass a homeless person on the street, in order to avoid making contact with their eyes, and you’ve got the picture.)
Jesus once told a story about a religious man who tried an en passant move on someone who was clearly in need of help. Actually in the story, there were two religious men who attempted the move. They make the passing move, but not to the approval of heaven. Then in an unexpected twist, an unlikely fellow arrives on the scene, and steps in to engage and care for the wounded traveller. The story is told in Luke chapter 10, and at its conclusion, one is left to assume that the two religious “bishops” were removed from the board.
Pawns are such little people, but they can turn the tide in a game of chess. Their influence is not to be underestimated, nor are they to think that they will never be called to account. We who often feel so powerless in the overwhelming challenges of poverty and homelessness and world hunger can easily deflect the problem to the knights and castles and queen. The King however, would have us pawns to play our part, and to not pass by on the other side.
DM 26th February 2013