By Nestor Ravilas
We have a popular version of nativity story, which is a marketable fusion of the two renditions found in biblical canon. There you can see both the magi and the shepherds all present beholding the holy child in the manger, which is actually far from the actual case. The manger, so especial in Luke, turns emblematic that could herald Christmas all by itself. It was said a symbol of simplicity if not scarcity, although that miserable nativity scene was actually caused by the unavailability of any inn due to the influx of “balikbayan” in Bethlehem as instigated by the emperor’s edict. Unlike in Lukan version, the manger however is not a pertinent feature in Matthean narration. It was not even there! As intimated by Matthew, the Magi visited the new born Jesus in their own humble home.
Without the celebrated manger, what is conspicuous in Matthean Christmas is the hunted Jesus, and the family that was pursued by state agents. The Jesus marked for death by the state. Threatened, Herod ordered the killing of the baby in fear of being dislodged from power. Thus the first few days of Jesus was described with horror of falling victim to the state-sanctioned violence.
This Christmas, the hunted Jesus is what we remember. It particularly brings to our memory by the thousands of lives who have fallen as a result of continuing public incitement for violence and murder of our own government. We remember the bereaved families who have been deprived of their loved ones in such senseless killings. And we pray for those still in the run, hunted by the fear that they might be the next ones lying in pavement and bathing in their own blood. Like the first holy couple, Joseph and Mary, the anxiety of the thought that the state agents might catch on them one day and murder their precious child haunts them even in festive occasions like this.
We celebrate Christmas with trepidation, that thousands of families will visit burial sites than gathering around a table for a feast.
Reluctant Christmas to all from Penuel Community!