“So then there were fourteen generations from Abraham to David, and fourteen from David to the exile in Babylon, and fourteen from then to the birth of the Messiah” (Matthew 1:17)
On the Sunday before Christmas the Church recalls the ancestry of the Messiah Jesus. Indeed, the whole holy history of salvation, the Old Testament, is completed by the bridge, this recall of humanity’s salvation. Here is the reason that His birth divides history. Many come to celebrate this wonder: The shepherds, the wanderers without real estate; angels looking with amazement at what God was doing on behalf of mankind; magi, the scientists and astrologers of the time. That famous nativity scene, our icon, is replicated in western art many times over. It lifts up an ideal, a symbol of perfect union between God and creation — what should develop, and which never did happen.
A. The people chosen to prepare the earth for harmony and peace in the Messiah had another agenda, which Jesus did not fulfill. The hope and change offered by the Lord was rejected. They hoped that a military leader would conquer the Roman occupiers, and so their historical highlight was a negative event, the Holocaust in the middle of the last century after which they were returned to the Promised Land, and made to defend it ever since;
B. The shepherds, nomads without land of their own, destined to search for fertile land evolved into another Abraham religion – Islam – which has had little to do with peace, and nothing to do with a Messiah sent from God, Son of God to reconcile heaven and earth. Rather, Islam is submission to the deity Allah, imposing by force or conversion that freedom-less faith on any and all, their only vision a return to the triumphant centuries between 8th-19th, and aimed at eradicating Israel and Christians in those nations taking part in the Arab spring;
C. The Magi, scientists of Christ’s time who searched the skies for some sign of harmony between heaven and earth, finding it yet as a conquered race having no means of developing their research. Modern scientists with vastly-improved instruments continue the tasks of the Magi. They discovered neutrinos. By acceleration of atoms, the Higgs boson “God particle,” they are learning about the way particles acquire their masses; however, no angels, no faith, nothing beyond matter, space and black holes.
What of Christianity? What of we who believe in the love of God displayed in the birth of the Son of God, Who so loved the world that He gave the world the witness of victory through suffering, death on the cross and resurrection from the dead, a journey into and through the world, into Hades itself to release mankind from separation, sin and death? Do we believe in the ultimate hope and change introduced by Jesus Christ, promised by politicians but incapable of delivering, or are we caught up in the hope that is economic, continuation of a life style dependent on money, hoping that will not change, looking forward not to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come, but rather to a life of pleasure, with death being the end of everything?