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Christmas Forgotten

By: Norbert Klein Posted: December-27-2010 in
Norbert Klein

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 696

“Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!! Hi friends, it’s Christmas! Treat yourself this Christmas with a new audiobook reader! Happy Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays and Happy Xmas. Tonight is the big annual Christmas Fashion Show and Party…” – and many more I got.

How did all this happen? – Also in regions of the world with a Christian history, or among communities of Christians where this is not the case, Christmas is not so much a day of religious performance, but a day of historical remembrance. For them, Christmas is about remembering the birth of Jesus. And the story that began with it.

That this was a harsh beginning, the start of conflicts after conflicts – with the religious, and with the political establishment.

His parents were traveling at that time, because everybody had to go to the hometown of their family for a census. But they did not go to their family folks. His mother had been found to be pregnant while they had been engaged. Shame on the family – “honor killings” have a long tradition. So they stayed in a guesthouse – but outside, in the animals’ place when he was born.

There was a rumor at that time of political unrest: Somebody was born, it was said, who would break the corrupt power of the dictatorial king – so his forces tried to stay in control by killing all newborn baby boys they could get hold of.

When he was only 12 years old, he made it already clear: There can be more important things than obeying and staying with the family.

He did not fit into the normals patterns – he did not marry when he was old enough, but was hanging out with a group of 12 friends, doing things against good customs, and claiming that dead laws are not good for life:

For a while, he followed a social critic who lived a strict life and did not eat normally and drank no alcohol, so he had the reputation: “Too radical!” – But later Jesus was accused the other way round: “He likes to eat and drinks wine!” – he did not refuse to meet people with a bad reputation, he talked to corrupt tax officials and prostitutes.

When he saw people making business from religion – all duly licensed by the authorities of the temple – he got angry, overturned the tables of the money changers and of those people who sold stuff used to celebrate religious ceremonies.

And he used rough words:

“Don’t display your religiousness like the hypocrites, who love to show it in public to be seen by others.”

“Let the dead bury the dead.”

“No one who put his hand seriously to the plow, but looks back into the past for old rules, is fit for new life under God.

“God stands with those who care for justice, for finally justice will be achieved.”

He was a danger for public order, he had to be stopped. When lawyers and monks brought a women they found who had had sex with more than one man, Jesus would have to state clearly that he is on the side of the law! According to the law, she had to be killed by stoning. This confrontation could finish both: this woman and also Jesus, if he opposed the law. “OK – who of you is without sin, throw the first stone!” he said, and all the accusers walked away.

Saying that the law was made for the people, and not the people for the law, put every human law under this test. This is not so different from what the Buddha said more radically: “Believe nothing on the sole authority of your masters and priests. After examination, believe what you yourself have tested and found to be reasonable, and conform your conduct thereto.” About another spiritual leader 700 years before, Micah from Moreshet, it was remembered that he spoke publicly against the powerful of his time and their riches gained through dishonesty, saying that even without a law every human person is responsible according what they know in their heart: “to do justice, to love kindness, and to be humble.”

So Jesus had to go. Whoever questions the standing of the authorities is dangerous, a revolutionary, who has to be controlled or eliminated. He was executed.

That is the story which started Christmas.

Merry Christmas?

Yes – behind all the present commercialization and perversions, there was, known or unknown, at the beginning of the spread the joy of Christmas, this confidence: The powers of injustice have no justification – be happy, peace and freedom will prevail in this world, whatever the struggle will cost – injustice and evil powers do not have the future, and people will find happiness among themselves. “We shall overcome one day!” – as the racially discriminated people in the USA were singing in confidence under the leadership of Martin Luther King – though he himself was assassinated in this struggle. Struggle and suffering was always part of the road to justice and freedom.

Merry Christmas!

There is reason to be happy – to build and to strengthen friendship and fellowship and love, just to be happy and enjoy to be together. It is contagious. Christmas time became a happy time in many parts of the world.

Yesterday’s report about a happy Christmas dinner in the USA – immigrants, maybe former refugees – said they had agreed that this is rightly a good time, even if it is not a religious affair: “When the world laughs, let’s laugh with the world. But when the world cries, why be bothered?”

Surprise.

This is not an invitation to criticize – it is a question for us, when we are happy.

Norbert KLEIN

This article was first published by The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 696 – Sunday, 26.12.2010
Have a look at the last editorial - you can access it directly from the main page of The Mirror.

Norbert Klein is the Editor of The Mirror – The Mirror is a daily comprehensive summary and translation of the major Khmer language press - More about The Mirror

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