Thought for the Day – 25 December – Birth of the Rebel, Jesus

Thought for the Day – 25 December – The Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord

Birth of the Rebel, Jesus

The sounds are characteristic of the Season.   As soon as the melody of any number of Christmas carols chime, the lyrics fill our minds and once again remind us of the uniqueness of ‘the most wonderful time of the year.’   Occasionally a song comes along that we have not heard and we ask, ‘Is this a Christmas song?’   Back in the 1970’s, composer and musician Jackson Browne wrote “The Rebel Jesus” and it appeared on the Chieftans’ Christmas album, “The Bells of Dublin” a decade later. Consider the following stanzas:

We guard our world with locks and guns
And we guard our fine possessions
And once a year when Christmas comes
We give to our relations
And perhaps we give a little to the poor
If the generosity should seize us
But if any one of us should interfere
In the business of why they are poor
They get the same as the rebel Jesus

But please forgive me if I seem
To take the tone of judgement
For I’ve no wish to come between
This day and your enjoyment
In this life of hardship and of earthly toil
We have need for anything that frees us
So I bid you pleasure
And I bid you cheer
From a heathen and a pagan
On the side of the rebel Jesus.

Jesus, a rebel?   Let’s face it, it is not one of the words we typically use to describe the Person and His work, especially at this time of the Year.   Many of our images of Jesus unfortunately have ‘tamed’ or ‘domesticated’ Him into being nothing more than a nice man who looks like one of the Bee Gees and taught people to be nice.   We have lost the ‘sting’ that much of His teaching brought to humanity and as such we have re-fashioned a Jesus Who is comfortable and easy-going.   With a re-fashioned Jesus, even the celebration of His Nativity has been re-written. ‘Christmas is (fill in the blank).   Christmas is for (fill in the blank).’Michelangelo,_JESUS - Giudizio_Universale_03

The reality is that no other person in recorded history has left such a mark on humanity. His birth, while legitimately celebrated with family, friends, gifts, food and good cheer, is actually a most inconvenient event for humanity.   Why is Jesus’ birth an inconvenience? Essentially, His birth challenges the status quo of self-serving entitlement and mediocrity calling us to take a stand as He in fact did throughout His life with and among us.JESUS OF THE SHROUD

Biblically, “to rebel” is not always a bad action.  In the languages of both Testaments, “to rebel” means “to stand for, to stand with” or “to stand against.”   Is this not precisely what Jesus the Rebel did when He walked the Earth?   Throughout His ‘working’ life, He continuously “stood for” doing His Father’s will.   Doing the Father’s will is adoring, worshipping and living in right-relationship with God our Father, each other and all of creation.   It is “standing for” the Father’s will in all things, not just the issues or actions I choose.   It is “standing for” the right actions that reverences life, feeds the hungry, shelters the homeless and consoles the sorrowing, to name only a few (see Matthew 25:31-45 for more on the Corporal Works of Mercy as well as their complement, the Spiritual Works of Mercy).   The Rebel Jesus “stands with” His people, never abandoning them in times of difficulty or adversity.   The Rebel Jesus ‘runs into’ situations to be with the suffering and sorrowing, not running away to seek individual relief and comfort.  The Rebel Jesus most inconveniently “stands against” sin, oppression, selfishness and arrogance expressed in any form that demeans the dignity and sacredness of the human person.   The Rebel Jesus challenges structures of society – both civil and religious – when authority is abused to make one’s life comfortable at the expense of another.carl bloch - jesus

In many of his addresses (most especially at Christmas Mass), Pope Francis has exhorted all of us to permit Jesus to find each of us in the encounter He [Jesus] desires.   As God, Jesus took on a full, complete human nature in all things but sin so that we in turn may be free from sin and live as sons and daughters of our Loving Father.   What a Gift we have been given in His birth, a birth that challenges us to be rebels like Him in standing for His Kingdom and His way of living.

May this Christmas be the moment to act and to stand ‘for, and with’ Jesus and to act and to stand ‘against’ everything that is not of Him.

(Fr Mark J Hunt)

(birth of the rebel jesus - may this christmas - 25 dec 2018


The Solemnity of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ – 25 December

This traditional translation of the Proclamation of the Birth of Christ comes from the Roman Martyrology, the official listing of the saints celebrated by the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church. the nativity of our lord jesus christ 25dec2018
For centuries, it was read on Christmas Eve, before the celebration of Midnight Mass.
Saint John Paul II, as pope, decided once again to include the Proclamation of the Birth of Christ in the papal celebration of Midnight Mass. Since the papal Midnight Mass at St Peter’s Basilica is broadcast worldwide, interest in the Proclamation revived and many parishes began to include it in their celebrations as well.the nativity of our lord jesus christ - beautiful

The Proclamation of the Birth of Christ situates the Nativity of Christ within the context of human history generally and salvation history specifically, making reference not only to biblical events (the Creation, the Flood, the birth of Abraham, the Exodus) but also to the Greek and Roman worlds (the original Olympics, the founding of Rome).   The coming of Christ at Christmas, then, is seen as the summit of both sacred and secular history.

The Twenty fifth Day of December,
when ages beyond number had run their course
from the creation of the world,
when God in the beginning created heaven and earth
and formed man in his own likeness,
when century upon century had passed
since the Almighty set His bow in the clouds after the Great Flood,
as a sign of covenant and peace,
in the twenty-first century since Abraham, our father in faith,
came out of Ur of the Chaldees;
in the thirteenth century since the People of Israel were led by Moses
in the Exodus from Egypt,
around the thousandth year since David was anointed King,
in the sixty fifth week of the prophecy of Daniel,
in the one hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad,
in the year seven hundred and fifty two
since the foundation of the City of Rome,
in the forty second year of the reign of Caesar Octavian Augustus,
the whole world being at peace,
Jesus Christ, eternal God and Son of the eternal Father,
desiring to consecrate the world by His most loving presence,
was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
and when nine months had passed since His conception,
was born of the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem of Judah,
and was made man –

The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh.