If the message of Christmas were simply gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, etc., etc., it would have died out about as unceremoniously as the current stock market. Therefore, we should probably consider if there are other possibilities.
When the Jews were conquered by the Romans they reacted as most oppressed people would. Their cultural myths concentrated on deliverance. In general, deliverance from an omnipotent force can take three approaches: armed rebellion; assimilation; and/or peaceful coexistence.
To some of the Hebrews their hoped-for messiah would be a warrior who would throw off the Roman rule. To others the approach was more of total capitulation. But for many the thought was a Prince of Peace would provide the best hope. To fight Rome, as the destruction of the Jewish temple in 70 A.D. showed, was to court annihilation. As the Jewish historian Josephus Flavius chronicled, revolt by the Jews brought total devastation to their society.
On the other hand, the Romans and Jews of that time did not appear to be interested in peaceful coexistence except upon terms set by Rome. That left real deliverance from bondage for the Jewish people to be more metaphysical, that is, through philosophy not armed resistance. And it took 2,000 years, the horrors of WWII and the benevolence of the world’s new Rome, the United States of America, before Jewish self-determination could be realized. Still true peace as called for by Jesus is elusive. The Middle East continues to be an area where armed rebellion is both ubiquitous and futile.
Perhaps we should give the true message of Christmas a chance. I know President Trump has his faults and I carry no brief for much of what our government does in our name. However, to withdraw from foreign conflicts that simply kill thousands, destroy cultures and cost trillions appears to me to be the course Jesus would call for. Merry Christmas and welcome home to our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and wherever else we are engulfed in endless counterproductive conflicts. And if we really are the new Rome maybe we should learn from the military fiascoes of that ancient one.
The debacle on Wall Street might best be addressed not by quarrelling over interest rates but by investing our treasure in ourselves instead of squandering it in the vain pursuit of a Pax Americana.
Leave a Reply