The people who were looking for a savior in the time of Jesus were people who had suffered much. They needed deliverance. But whom should they look for? A new Moses? A prophet, like Elijah? Or were things so bad, that only God could make it right?
As the story goes, a baby is born to Mary. Herod gets some inkling that this baby won’t be good for business– his business being domination and coercive power– and so, in order to hedge his bets, he orders all the babies to be killed. These are not the best conditions under which to raise a family, so Joseph scurries to Egypt with his wife and boy, until the danger passes. The cute manger scene does not last for long.
To sentimentalize and domesticate Christmas is to ignore what the story really says. What the story tells us, again and again, is that people are frightened at the reality of God’s coming into the world: Mary is scared, Joseph is scared, the shepherds are scared, and Herod– the king!– is scared. Why are they scared?
Because when God comes into the world, things change– and they don’t change just a little. For those who have much, the risk of change is loss. For those who have nothing, the risk of change is hope. Either way, the Christmas story ends up revealing the truth of our vulnerability, kings and shepherds alike. But that’s not all the story does. This revelation of mutual vulnerability shines with the possibility for new life and restored relationships, because in the Christmas story, God is vulnerable too.
Latin Patriarch of Palestine and Jordan Fuad Twal arrived at the Nativity Church in Bethlehem on Saturday, as thousands gathered to celebrate the annual Christmas mass.”We ask the baby of Bethlehem to give us the peace we really need, peace in all the countries of the Middle East. We demand peace in the Holy Land,” said Twal.