Wi’am Christmas Message 2010/2011

Wi’am Christmas Message 2010/2011

There is room in the inn; everyone is welcomed in the cave of our Lord Jesus…

Christmas is a celebration for every Christian family.   We are reminded that Christ is born to a humble woman in a cave in Bethlehem. However, I believe I cannot celebrate Christmas without remembering the socio-economic and political conditions that exist in Bethlehem today.  Yes, I believe in the miraculous birth of Christ. If the baby were to be born in the flesh today, what would He find?

The Magi will not be able to visit because of the Apartheid Wall (annexation wall.)  This Wall, which is five times the length and twice the height of the Berlin wall, will stand in their path. Mary and Joseph will not be able to come to Bethlehem because of the 500 (at least) checkpoints that prevent them from moving freely.  Many of the caves as well as houses, especially in Jerusalem, have been demolished for so -called “security”, which is in actuality a vehicle for ethnic cleansing.

Will the Holy Family find an alternative?? There are no more shepherds in the fields because 87% of the land in Bethlehem is either under Israeli control or confiscated for building settlements, bypass roads or erecting the Apartheid annexation wall.

Angels are searching desperately for good news to tell the world. There is increasing doubt of their success!!! Leaders like Herod are increasing their influence in the world. They are becoming more oppressive and ruthless. Rachel is not crying alone in Ramah, but joined by more mothers who have lost their children.  There are not enough comforters for the growing number of afflicted families.

The Holy Family will not be able to seek refuge in Egypt since Palestinians are not easily welcomed.  The number of Palestinian refugees has increased to five million in Egypt and other countries where refugees are continually ill-treated.

However, we will not allow the Grinch to steal Christmas!!! Christ is born. Alleluia!! Despite the occupation, hope is rekindled, and the spirit is uplifted. The Romans, as with all kinds of occupations, verified the truth and the belief of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. Whether the tyrant rulers like it or not, they cannot halt the dissemination of the Good News. The transformation has started and no power on earth will stop it.  As Martin Luther King Jr. said “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward Justice”. Verily, some leaders can postpone the inevitability of justice for a while, but not forever.

Hope is born with Christmas and reborn with the Resurrection. Our hope is still alive. Hope is the “capacity to see God in the midst of trouble. It encourages us to change the reality in which we find ourselves. Hope means not giving in to evil, but rather standing up to it” (Kairos Palestine Document, 2009).

Do not be afraid: for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people,” (Luke 2: 11) so let us not to be afraid, angels, shepherds, and all for we are to be equipped with hope and armed with love. Let us raise our voice to the glory of God.

Despite of all the bloodshed, the massacres that are carried out here and there, and the agony of the crucifixion, the resurrected Christ is alive among us and he will be born in the cave of our hearts. Our hearts are wide enough to house all the children born today regardless of the oppression, suppression and depression. The Grinch will never steal Christmas because all of you of good who will warm our hearts to prepare our caves for every refuge. The child of the cave will be nourished by your prophetic voices and actions of Justice.

You have told me several times you will not be able to celebrate Christmas without sending messages of love and agape to the children of Bethlehem.   Your calls to adopt BDS are a blessed message of nonviolence, resisting the ugly violence of the Occupation to bring the occupiers to their senses. Christ is always struggling for restorative, not punitive Justice. Therefore as followers of Christ we, the children of the Holy Land, are looking to redress injustice rather to avenge it.

Our apology to the baby Christ: Forgive us our shortcomings since we are not able to learn the lessons of the past; forgive us for not being able to shun violence; forgive us for the sins committed in the name of religion; forgive us for not honoring your message of peace that you brought with you when you were born.

Are you not the person in the Nazareth Declaration that said whatever you do for the least of my brothers and sisters you are doing it to me?!? Are you not the person who commanded us “to preach good news to the poor, to proclaim freedom for the prisoners, and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Lk 4:18-19)

Let me assure all of you that the essential message of Christmas is that we are to opt for life and we love to celebrate life with others in the Middle East and everywhere. We are determined to live life before death.

As Saint Paul said:

Who will separate us from the love of Christ?

Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all day long” For I am convinced that (nothing) in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God” (Rom. 8: 35, 36, 39).

The Christmas message in the end is all about what God has entrusted us to do in this world; the incarnation of His love that we practice in our daily life. May the blessings of God prevail on all the people irrespective of race, color, or ethnicity.

May the ray of God lead us to the road of justice, reconciliation, goodness and salvation. Merry Christmas!

Christ is born!  Alleluia!!!

Zoughbi Zoughbi and colleagues

Wi’am, Bethlehem