‘The Passion of Adrian Delia’

Is it because – as Ranier Fsadni seems to suggest, in a recent Times article – there is simply “no leadership alternative to Bernard Grech at present”? Or is it because of…

“Although he never hurt anyone, he was scourged and crucified.

“Although he only ever preached love, he was killed by hatred.

“Although he came to save us all, nobody showed him any compassion. On the contrary, there were even those who betrayed him…”

Sounds an awful lot like the tagline for Mel Gibson’s ‘The Passion of The Christ’, doesn’t it?  Except that… well, it isn’t. And not only that; but the words themselves don’t even necessarily allude to ‘Jesus Christ’ all that much anyway (or at least: only very superficially.)

No, indeed. If you really must know, that is an excerpt from a Facebook post uploaded by Adrian Delia on Good Friday. And OK, granted: on the surface, it is virtually indistinguishable from all the customary ‘Meditations on the Passion of Christ’ that we have after all come to expect – especially from Maltese politicians – at this time of year.

But (much as I hate to shatter Adrian Delia’s Messianic delusions, or anything)…

… ‘Passion of the Christ’, my eye! I think we can all see, perfectly clearly, that Adrian Delia must have had a very different ‘passion’ in mind, than the one experienced by Jesus Christ two thousand years ago. And once again: this emerges from both the timing, and the wording, of his own Facebook post.

The timing, because – while Good Friday remains a universal commemoration of the Crucifixion, and all that – this year, it also happened to land just a couple of weeks after the last General Election; and, more pertinently, just a couple of days after the subsequent ‘casual election’, too.

I need hardly add that both those elections (arguably more so the latter) resulted in the all-but complete annihilation of the entire ‘anti-Delia’ camp, from within the ranks of the Nationalist Party.

And, well, viewed just from that perspective… it is easy to see why Adrian Delia would personally interpret those results as some kind of ‘Final Judgment’ regarding where God’s own sympathies all along lay, between those two rival factions…

Besides: what better moment for Delia to display some good old-fashioned Christian ‘magnanimity in victory’… than after having just fulfilled the ‘Prophecy of Conan The Barbarian’? You know: ‘to crush your enemies; see them driven before you; and hear the lamentation of their women…’? (Well, the ones who weren’t elected via the gender-correction mechanism, anyway.…)

And even then: in a country where so many people still evidently swoon over such ostentatious declarations of piety… what better way to seem magnanimous, than by re-enacting the words so famously uttered by Jesus Christ himself, as he lay dying on the Cross? ‘Forgive them, Heavenly Father, for they know not what they do”?

You’ve got to hand it to Adrian Delia, though. Coming from almost any other politician, that post would have had me reaching for the proverbial ‘sick bag under my seat’. And yet… while he is certainly not the first to ever get carried away by such clearly dotty ‘delusions of Divinity’ (after all, both Simon Busuttil and Bernard Grech had compared their own political mission to ‘a battle between Good and Evil’… leaving us in no doubt whatsoever, as to where they plotted themselves on the spectrum of political ‘sanctity’…)

… at the same time, I can’t actually think of that many others, who could pull off the same stunt so… convincingly, almost. (I mean, just look at all the comments underneath: mostly variations of ‘Prosit!’; ‘Well said!’, ‘Amen!’, etc.  Clearly, Adrian Delia must be fooling at least SOME people, out there…)

Not only that, but there aren’t that many politicians who can actually back up such ‘miraculous’ claims, at least a tiny bit. Yet there it is, in black-on-white, in that same election result.

Despite having been, if not exactly ‘scourged and crucified’… at least, ‘deposed and humiliated’ (and certainly, ‘betrayed’) – Adrian Delia still somehow managed to emerge spectacularly triumphant, in the end: and from the same electoral contest, in which all his critics were more or less ‘struck by a lightning bolt from the Heavens’, too…!

In all honesty, it’s hard not to imagine that the Hand of God must have sneakily pulled a few strings behind the scenes: almost as if to say, ‘This is My Beloved Candidate, In Whom I Am Well Pleased…’.

Because even if Adrian Delia’s own political achievement falls somewhat short of literally ‘coming back from the dead’ (let’s face it: Jesus did set the bar slightly high there, didn’t he?)… on a purely metaphorical level, it remains a colossal political comeback, of a magnitude that very few of us would have predicted two short years ago.

And indeed, very few of us did. Just to give one example of how much of a ‘pariah’ Adrian Delia was perceived to be – back when his entire leadership was literally crumbling before our eyes, in the long hot summer of 2020 – ‘Bis-Serjeta.com’ had even quipped that Comtec (that’s ‘pest-control’, for those living on another planet) needed to be called in to get him out of the Dar Centrali, once and for all…

So to go, in just two years, from THAT image – and OK, it was satire: but still, the comparison was to vermin, no less – to getting himself catapulted to parliament from two districts (in an election which also seems to have visited the ‘Twelve Plagues of Egypt’, onto the party that had so vehemently opposed him…)

And on top of that, to also land himself firmly in the new line-up of PN shadow ministers - almost literally ‘on the Third Day’ after that Good Friday post, too! – while, again, so many of his former adversaries were either relegated to the sidelines, or had failed to even get themselves elected at all…

Put it all together, and I suppose you can more or less understand how - in his own mind, at any rate – Adrian Delia would have the audacity to draw parallels between himself, and the ‘Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ’.

He was, after all, politically ‘dead’, just two short years ago. So – always on a purely metaphorical level, naturally – the word ‘Resurrection’ isn’t even all that much of an exaggeration, is it?

Which, naturally, brings us to the ‘wording’ part. Just in case there was any remaining doubt, that Adrian Delia was inviting us all to meditate on his own ‘passion’ (much more than that of Jesus Christ)… he also left us a few tell-tale clues.

For starters, the words ‘scourged’ (msawwat) and especially ‘crucified’ (msallab), are idiomatically used in Maltese to refer to precisely the sort of tribulations experienced by Adrian Delia anyway.

And besides: analogies between the ‘betrayal of Christ’, and the disloyalty faced by Adrian Delia, had already been made before (I seem to remember some among the crowd shouting ‘Judas!’ at the rebel MPs, as they emerged from the Stamperija on that fateful October evening in 2020)…

But there are, by my count, at least two dead giveaways. The first is: “although he [Jesus] came to save us all”… which is, of course, perfectly true of Christian theology; but which also happens to directly echo Adrian Delia’s own campaign platform, when he had first contested for the PN leadership in June 2017.

Remember? He had promised to ‘save’… not ‘us all’, perhaps; but at least, the Nationalist Party, from the clutches of a ‘clique’ which had (in his own words) ‘hijacked’ it.

The second clue is Adrian Delia’s seemingly misplaced claim, that ‘he’ [still Jesus] was ‘killed by hatred’.  Not, mind you, because it is anyway inaccurate – there can, in fact, be little doubt that Pharisees such as Caiaphas must have ‘hated’ Jesus Christ, all right: enough to want him DEAD, at all costs…

But again, Adrian Delia’s emphasis on ‘hatred’ chimes in far more with his own stated views about politics in general – and his own experience therein – than with any of the more standard, Christian responses to the Crucifixion.

Shortly after the events of October, for instance, Adrian Delia had told me in an interview that: “I don’t think the solution to the PN’s problems should have been to remove the party leader; but rather, to remove the people who worked against the interests of both leader and party; and who persist in openly sowing division… creating a sense of disunity… preaching hatred…”   

And it is from this vantage point, more than any other, that Adrian Delia’s otherwise OUTRAGEOUS claims to Messianism, can be seen to make at least a tiny bit ofsense (enough, in fact, for me to hold back from actually reaching for that sick-bag, after all).

For while Delia’s audacity almost borders on the superhuman… his claims to have been ‘scourged’ and crucified’ (always in the idiomatic Maltese sense) are undeniably TRUE.

So true, in fact, that they can even be seen to still impinge on the state of the Nationalist Party today. Why, for instance, does nobody seem to have any interest whatsoever, in challenging Bernard Grech for the leadership… not even now: after the third (fourth, if you include MEP elections) cataclysmic defeat in a row?

Is it because – as Ranier Fsadni seems to suggest, in a recent Times article – there is simply “no leadership alternative to Bernard Grech at present”? Or is it because of…

well, because of the ‘Passion of Adrian Delia’, at the end of the day? Because – let’s face it - who his right mind would possibly want to expose themselves to the same sort of (metaphorical) ‘scourging’, and (equally metaphorical) ‘crucifixion’, that befell the last person who was mad enough to try?

Oh, OK… except ‘Jesus Christ’, maybe…