Christmas Meditation 2015
II has long been accepted by scripture scholars that the infancy narratives are more interested in proclaiming the meaning of Jesus’ birth than giving us verifiable historical details. Unknown to the first evangelist Mark and written at least three generations after the event, these powerful stories attempt to interpret for first century people the significance of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
Matthew and Luke, writing in the glow of the resurrection and knowing the end of the story, rightly insist that even the birth of Jesus is significant. The best way to communicate this, given the nature of the audience and the historical period is by narrative. People love stories. Ultimate truths in fact are best proclaimed by stories. These carefully crafted myths, written by Matthew and Luke against the background of the Hebrew scriptures, contain the eternal themes of life-death, threat-promise, power-weakness etc.
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar,
when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea,
and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee,
and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region
of Ituraea and Trachonitis,
and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene,
during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas,
Reading for the second Sunday of Advent 2015
Ah clever Luke makes sure we get the message.
He actually names the Roman power broker
right off the bat, the ridiculous poser Tiberius, Nero’s son
and stepson of Augustus who styled himself “dominus et deus”
Lord and god…it is to laugh.
Tiberius, trisitissimus hominum, the gloomiest of men as Pliny called him, employs the sycophantic enablers of empire, minor thugs— Pilatus, Herod, Philip, Lysanias interchangeable plunderers of the poor making daily war on the anawim, the bent and broken farmers of Palestine.
Worse than these are the collaborator high priests Annas and Caiaphas
Torah tramplers bought and paid for by the imperium.
Entrance left comes the baptizer heralding the itinerant rabbi Yeshua who “will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”(16)
In the dark season of Advent when injustice seems to rule
we continue to trust with revolutionary patience in the fiery way of Jesus
who is our Emmanuel, God with us, God with refugees, God with those like Jesus, who live under occupation in the land of Nazareth and Bethlehem.
With the joy his birthday brings we recommit ourselves to the work of justice, nonviolence and peacemaking.
Christus natus est…alleluia.