Choosing to see otherwise

In the midst of all the pageantries and tradition that comes with the yuletide season, we are often led to believe that Christmas is a time of joy and celebration with our loved ones.

It is.

But to one must remember that, such wasn't the case in 1st century CE in Roman Judea.

Once Jesus was born and after the shepherds, then the wise men have left, there was only the impulse to flee.

King Herod orders the execution of all young male children in the village of Bethlehem, so as to avoid the loss of his throne to a newborn "King of the Jews".

In an ironic twist of faith the so-called Savior flees with his parents to their salvation from the oppressive hands of the State.

The Christmas story would not be complete if we exclude the story of the innocents massacred by Herod1 as Jesus, Joseph and Mary made their way to Egypt –as refugees.

It's possible that we forget this story, because it doesn't fit in with the motif that we have been accustomed to because the State, the Church, the corporations, the establishment and the powers-that-be who benefit from the status quo chose to paint us an incomplete picture –one that is: safe. UnchallengingReactionary. 

Because for us to see otherwise would mean the turning of tables and the shifting of power.

The great irony of the Christmas drama is that Christ was born so that he could die. We try to romanticize it by saying that it was a mission --a part of a divine drama that will unfold, where Jesus dies for his ungrateful creation.

The space in between Jesus' birth and death presents us with narratives that challenges us to rise up and make a difference by proclaiming freedom for the oppressed2, turning the other cheek3 and loving our neighbor as our selves4–to bring hope.

How do we become hope incarnate in the midst of violence at a time when the poor suffer, when tenderness and life burned out of them5?

Should we be content in preaching heaven? In praying away our sufferings? Or should we take sides and declare that a better world is possible?

The gospel challenges us to struggle with the oppressed in realizing justice by refusing to treat evil as an acceptable part of a larger harmonious vision ---that is to live in constant anxiety with nothing but faith in the One who said that whatever we have done for the least has cosmic significance6.

1Matthew 2:16-18
2Luke 4:18
3Matthew 5:38-40
4Matthew 22:39
5A line I borrowed from Otto Rene Castillo's Apolitical Intellectuals

6Matthew 25:40