We will hear the Christmas story again this year. It is announcement of HOPE and a call to ACTION!
THE INFANCY NARRATIVES OF LUKE AND MATTHEW both present the clear message: Some People Accepted Jesus. Some People Rejected Jesus. The Gospel of John states it this way: He came to his own but his own people did not accept him. But to those who did accept him he gave power (he empowered them) to become children of God, to those who believe in his name. Jn. 1:11,12. From my perspective some who are claiming to have accepted Jesus find no difficulty supporting positions that are clearly not of Jesus.
Paulo Freire who wrote the challenging and informative book: PEDAGOGY OF THE OPPRESSED, helps me to get a start on transformation. He argues that perception, the recognition of one’s current situation, is the beginning of transformation. Here are a few examples of people who went through a process of transformation. They come from the paper, the Catholic Agitator of the Los Angeles Catholic Worker:
“You could say that we came from a tradition that was pretty much into the Bible. As Anabaptists, a founding premise of our religious identity was that history and tradition could contort the message of Christianity, and that therefore constant reference back to the contents of the Bible was necessary to maintain or arrive at a steady, faithful understanding of Christ’s message.”
“As someone whose personality tends towards introversion and introspection rather than action, as well as someone who grew up in a tradition emphasizing in many ways, right?belief over right?action, I knew that I needed to be around and learn from people who made a concerted discipline of working out in action the social justice imperatives of the gospel that I believe I had come to recognize through reading the Bible.”
“…the part that I value about it most is the chance to hear perspectives on the bible that are formed through daily experience with an embroilment in the systems of oppression that affect the people that we know in the inner city.”
Here is another example of another similar story. A man of a certain prominence, began helping out with the weekly Saint Vincent de Paul Society, food distribution and soup kitchen. At the regular Sunday service, he shared that he previously didn’t know much about this service of his church community. He then held up his green envelope that is used for financial contributions to support this work. He encouraged others to be generous. To me this was a clear example of how actual contact with the poor brings a different perspective and conversion. I’ve been trying to perceive and recognize what is my current situation. The present political climate in the U.S. and the World surely calls for transformation. When we pray in the Our Father: “…thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” is it a command, a prayer, or what? What does the Kingdom of God look like?
In Matthew there are guiding dreams and a guiding star. Joseph accepts the message of the dream and the magi follow the star. Herod and the scribes and priests of Jerusalem are threatened by the coming child and respond as threatened people do.
In Luke there are announcing angels, Mary and the Shepherds accept the message, but Simeon tells of the “fall of many a sign to be contradicted.”
This pattern of announcement, acceptance or rejection will be carried through the entire Gospel. It continues tonight. Tonight we receive and renew the announcement again: For to you is born a Savior who is Christ the Lord. But we must be attentive to what action these words are calling us.