Sunday, December 13, 2009

Advent Reflection 3: 'Another Christmas Is Possible'

by Arnaldo Zenteno S.J., from the Equipo de Servicios CNP. Comunidades Eclesiales de Base de Nicaragua (English translation by Rebel Girl)

"For today in the city of David a Savior has been born unto you who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a newborn babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger." (Luke 2:11-12)

Outraged by the total manipulation of Christmas nowdays, we would like to state that the real Christmas has been stolen from us. The folly of the ads and Christmas decorations that fill the streets have little or nothing to do with what the birth of Jesus means. We are tired of the constant bombardment of advertising to which we are subjected that encourages us to consume and buy what we don't need and and spend what we don't have, using Christmas as simply a means to increase sales and profits.

We realize how this savage neoliberalism in which we are immersed produces values contrary to Christmas and the message of Jesus, and are strongly calling for recovering of the true values that Christmas implies and denouncing the hypocrisy of this system that uses God to promote business profits while forgetting the poor who are the favorites of the Father. Today, there would be no room for poor Joseph, poor Mary and poor Jesus in the malls or supermarkets, or in luxury hotels.

We denounce this neo-liberal system under which we live that excludes the majority and benefits the wealthiest and the large national and multinational companies. Nothing is further from the message of love, solidarity and fraternity that the birth of the Christ Child brings us.

We imagine "another possible Christmas", closer to this Infant Jesus humbly born in a manger ... and still being born today in the poorest and most excluded. We don't want this commercial Santa Claus, only interested in promoting this exacerbated consumerism. We want to open hearts and doors to the saving coming of the Christ Child. Solidarity and tenderness will open a way against individualism, selfishness and consumerism.

We imagine a Christmas where we take the opportunity to make a journey into our spirit, there where the God of life dwells, and ask Him to help us recognize Him today among the poorest and most excluded and fight together with them for a decent life, such as He wants for His daughters and sons.

We imagine a simple, caring, happy Christmas ... one without frills, where we make present in our heart all people who suffer and who are preferred by God the Father and Mother: children of the streets, exploited workers in the maquilas, the unemployed, the sick without access to health care, peasants in the interior and villagers of many districts who will spend another day hungry, our brother migrant workers who will spend Christmas far from their families, the battered and abused women in so many homes, the Samaritans, etc ...

But we also imagine that our hearts can not remain impassive in the face so much pain and injustice and that it will move us to get going to find ways so that this whole situation, which is scandalous in the eyes of God, will cease once and for all.

And at the level of our Communities we want a Missionary Christmas. We do not want to celebrate Christmas locked up in ourselves, nor reduce it to just our families. From them and from our Communities we want to go further and bring the Good News of Jesus and celebrate it at least with other neighbors, in other parts of our neighborhoods and also with those who are excluded in any way.

We imagine and we want another possible world, another possible America, another possible Nicaragua ... just, fraternal, and in solidarity like the birth of Jesus.

In the following video, Fr. Arnaldo reads a poem he wrote about the birth of Jesus and the street children.

Photo: This poster from Argentina reminds us that there was no room at the inn for the Holy Family in Bethlehem and calls for a Christmas without evictions.

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