Asia Pacific, 9 December, 2011 – Christians will remember and re-live this day when God chose humanity-divinity in one act to take His place in the realities of human history. We will hear from Luke’s Gospel (2:6-7), “…While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”
Mary and Joseph only received the hospitality of a place for animals to sleep and a feeding box for animals to lay their son. Both before and after the birth, the family had to make long journeys including fleeing from a king who felt his political power threatened by this ‘new king.’
As one meditates on Jesus’ birth, one cannot help thinking of the various situations of people forced to flee life-threatening situations.
Jesus accepted to share in our humanity including pain, suffering and death. And yet the ironic truth is that it is God Who offers hospitality to us by embracing the entire world unconditionally. He stood beside the weak and vulnerable — strangers, widows and orphans—and had harsh words for those who rejected or marginalised them. He lived and showed us how to be better than we think of ourselves, to inspire us to greatness not in wealth, power, honour but to embrace others irrespective of country, colour or religion.
He has offered us an ethics of hospitality shared by all people of faith and good will—to defend the dignity of people through laws and practices; to ensure just distribution of wealth by corporations and governments extracting resources from mother earth’s womb; to share resources with the forgotten and needy.
To know what kind of world we need to construct, we need to place ourselves in the company of refugees and displaced people, migrants, asylum seekers, and people held in detention.
Listen! Listen to their stories. Get to know them and their families. Hear their dreams and hopes for their futures. Listen also to the Spirit calling us out to compassionate hospitality and action. See! See in their eyes the vision of a world closer to the communion with God and humanity—where people from different races, nationalities, colours and religions can share in the banquet feast and celebrate our divinized humanity together!
Let us celebrate the compassion of the Christ-child during this Christmas and everyday hereon.
Bernard Hyacinth Arputhasamy, SJ
Regional Director JRS Asia Pacific