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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Madonna's brother: Hanging with the 'sheep' and 'goats'

Matthew 25:31-46 is otherwise known as The Parable of the Sheep and Goats.  In it, Jesus tells the story of the Son of Man one day separating people from one another as “a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.”  The sheep will be set to the right, and the goats to the left.  The sheep will then be told:  Come, blessed of my Father; inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food to eat.  I was thirsty and you gave me drink.  I was a stranger and you took me in…

The righteous “sheep” then ask (that’s how righteous they were, they didn’t just take this heavenly boon and run with it):  Lord, when did we see you hungry, and feed you; or thirsty, and give you a drink?  The Lord replied:  Most certainly I tell you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me…  (We will end the retelling of this parable on a happy note and not continue with what happened to the “goats.”)

A couple of millennia after Matthew’s version, this story is being
revamped under the  eye-catching headline:  Madonna’s brother
lives on the streets of Michigan.  The synopsis reads:  Madonna’s
elder brother has been left living on the streets of Michigan after
losing his job at the family’s vineyard.  (A vineyard – even more
biblical…)  To cement the biblical connection ever further, the Michigan Messenger conducted an interview with this “lost sheep,” Anthony Ciccone, while  he was being fed at one of the city’s churches.  During the interview, Ciccone lamented:  My family turned their back on me, basically, when I was having a hard time.  You think I haven’t answered this question a bazillion times; why my sister is a multibazillionaire, and I’m homeless on the street?

Now it’s quite possible that the family has their reasons.  Perhaps they’re concerned about codependency issues.  Perhaps Anthony has taken the term “prodigal son” to new depths.  (And perhaps even Cain would be acquitted by today’s legal system if enough financial influence were involved…)

Family and societal dynamics are, at their best, intricate.  Might and right often get confused in the tangle of everyday webs.  Should Madonna be “her brother’s keeper” no matter what?  Some think that’s solely her call. 

Matthew, apparently, doesn’t.


Copyright October 25, 2011 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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