8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.
May the Christmas season find us all enveloped and thriving in love, warmth, and security. Christmas is a journey of sharing and expanding the blessings of agape, family and community. We are called to contextualize the Christmas message of hope into our communities. We are further called from, to and for the people, to join each other in our joys and sorrows, and be in communion with each other. Romans 12:15-16 says: “ be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other.”
Indeed we must continue to look towards each other, and we must ask ourselves: Does the Blessed Virgin Mary labor alone in the manger? What will we do with this angel’s good news? Are we growing this gift of hope into justice and love-bearing actions?
Jesus Christ is born in Bethlehem, and journeys onwards, voicing and acting in solidarity with all that have been called through life. This little baby becomes the epitome of hope, overcoming cruel injustice to liberate all. While the trials and tribulations may be different, the adversity that faced the baby Jesus and holy family, continue to be faced by far too many in our communities and around the world. Yet in spite of COVID, the economic, social, and political inequity, and the remnants and growing forms of colonialism, occupation, and exploitation, we continue to stand here committed to nurturing hope, and realizing empowering and liberating change for all. We remain committed to each other, and inspired and called through the message of Christmas. This season we dedicate ourselves again, to continuous renewal and transformative hope, solidarity and empathetic compassion, and just peace.
Renewal and transformative hope are always needed. The birth of Jesus is the miracle of hope contextualized in Bethlehem. There is no faith without hope and no hope without faith. We are emboldened by hope and empowered to continue journeying on this less travelled road, to pave a way towards transformation. Just as the leaves fall to make room for the birth of new life, we are invited to renew, and nourish ourselves, leaving that which no longer serves us and each other and replacing it with what strengthens and sustains ourselves and community.
Solidarity and empathetic compassion are the foundations of our human nature/experience. We are also explicitly called to be caring (in Ephesians 4:32): “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” It is not enough to be in the other’s shoes, but as indigenous first nation wisdom teaches, we must also walk miles within them. And it is within this Christmas message that God is incarnate to walk with us in our shoes, to share with us in our difficulties, in our sorrows and pain, and in our celebration of life. Likewise, we are all called to be the love that created us and embraces all life, not through cheap grace, but instead through intentional community, magnificent love, and costly solidarity.
There is no peace without justice. Jesus entices us to work for Justice and peace on all levels for all people. We understand that justice and peace are not concentrated in power, but instead in dignity and the equitable access to life, happiness, and dignity. We understand just peace as a dynamic practice of love, inclusion, and pluralism, and as such anchor ourselves and understanding of justice and peace in our belonging to each other. The path from Nazareth to the manger was not easy, and what is yet to come, is even more difficult still. Yet, the Holy family persists, and Jesus is delivered in a lowly manger. Like a seed sending its branches out of the cracks, sharing its life-nourishing fruit with all, we are called from every crevice and corner of the world to stretch our arms for just peace, and to enjoy its blessings together.
Mary carried and delivered Hope to that manger almost two millennia ago, and we are invited to carry that hope together everyday, to expand our table until all have a seat, and to celebrate life through song together until all our voices are heard. “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among people with whom He is pleased.
Zoughbi zoughbi 2021