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Return to Christmas

By: Editorial December 22,2017 - 10:17 PM

Before the first Christmas came, much of the world was under Roman rule, and Galilee, Jesus Christ’s own native land, was led by the bloodthirsty Herod.

Save for John the Baptist who prophesied near the Jordan and for the mysterious events that led to his own conception through his parents Elizabeth and Zechariah as well as to the expectancy of the Virgin Mary, there seemed to be nothing new looming beneath the heavens.

As brought to life on the silver screen by Catherine Hardwicke, Israel before the first Christmas groaned in mass poverty, crucifixions and heavy taxation while its leaders busied themselves with making a palace shine like gold.

Nevertheless, Christmas came. It came not to the royals or soldiers, not to the learned priests or courtiers, not to the governor or soldiers.

Christmas was announced to the powerless and the seekers, to shepherds and the magi, the humble and the wise.

The ones who had much in life had no need of the Savior, the newborn baby. Powerful Herod considered him a threat. The scholarly could not see beyond their learning. The innkeepers were busy with brisk business. Caesar’s men concentrated on the census.

This is the grace of Christmas. It comes in spite of, nay, because of the disorder and injustice of the world and of the unworthiness of women and men even as it escapes those who, in figuring life out for themselves, have forfeited their capacity to hope.

Christmas should awaken hope across the Philippines. Hope is not to retreat into our little lives with our little plans in the mistaken belief that a figured-out life means sticking our heads into the sand while self-styled dictators do to the rest of our world whatever strikes their fancy.

Learn from the Christmas shepherds. They were led to the true light while keeping vigil in the night.

Our hope starts here, with accepting that it is night across the land. Storms have wreaked havoc on the Visayas and Mindanao. Political turmoil threatens our democracy. Corruption, addiction and bloodshed have become regular. Disease and unemployment afflict thousands of families.

Learn from the magi. Wisdom means acknowledging that there are better ways of doing than the paths we have carved, that there are better lights than the shadows to which we have become accustomed.

We can flourish on the road of political vendetta, state-sanctioned killings, zero sum games instead of peace negotiations, exploitation of the environment, carelessness about public health and graft.

Christmas comes in spite of all these. But the Christmas story will not be complete if we shun the humility of shepherds and the wisdom of magi who tell us today that the road to justice and peace, to love and care, leads to a stable in Bethlehem.

Let us take the journey to Christmas as a nation, a journey that bids us to let go of solutions to our woes plagiarized from the violence, greed, powerlust, pride and inhumanity that held sway over Caesar and Herod.

The Child of Bethlehem has much to teach us in humility and wisdom so that we may live again with songs on our lips and walk again the new paths of hope.

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TAGS: came, Christmas, return, Roman, rule, under, world

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