Over two thousand years ago, in the days of Caesar Augustus, there was a decree that “All the world should be taxed”, and all went to be taxed, everyone to his own city. Failure to do so meant great punishment at the orders of the Emperor. This was not a time of merriment, but toil, torture and pain.
In today’s world, many are faced with difficult situations, and many walk wounded. Fiery darts fly from that little member of our bodies – the tongue. There is a strong competition as to who can hurl the most hurtful words, or commit the most unkind act. It is easy to do so because technology also plays a role of “bad master”, as travel is easy on social media, no traffic lights and no compassion.
This Christmas, let us pause a moment in the glitter and merriment to ponder on the Compassion of Christmas. It was God showing compassion for the world, by sending Jesus to save us all from Satan’s power, O tidings of Comfort and Joy! The journey to this Joy was in itself a journey of Compassion.
Consider Mary, a teenager, called to bear the Son of God, and her cousin Elizabeth an aged woman, called to bear Jesus’ fore-runner. These women would have been mocked in their pregnant state at two extremes of their life cycle. There was compassion as these two women comforted each other.
In this time of increasing violence in our society, the trauma of some of our women, and the violent behaviour of some of our men, I wish to ponder on the compassion of certain men at Jesus’ birth.
Consider Joseph, finding his wife to be “with child”. In compassion he decided to put her away privately, until the angel of the Lord came to counsel. He was comforted and displayed even greater compassion to her.
Joseph took his wife – great with child – along with him to be taxed, in obedience to Caesar Augustus’ decree. See him at the door of the Inn – seeking shelter, pleading for a place for his Mary to rest her head.
Consider the Inn-Keeper – he must have looked with compassion on the pregnant Mary, when he offered them the shelter of the Stable.
Consider the Three wise men who in compassion returned home another way, so as not to bring news of their find to the King who wished to kill the Baby Jesus. Joseph’s compassion reached its peak when he was faithful in protecting the life of Jesus and Mary and obeyed the command of the angels to find temporary safety in Egypt.
In this season, there is trauma and fear in the land. Strange and not so strange diseases are multiplying faster than the comforts people are seeking. Many have set their hearts on accumulating riches, giving space to the multiplying rates of hunger, poverty and unemployment. A lack of compassion exists when there is inequality in the distribution of wealth; when the strong will not help the weak, the experienced will not assist in developing the skills of the beginners, and the importance of every type of job is not recognized. That first Christmas Day set a new standard.
Consider the Shepherds – all men – watching their sheep – who were the first to spread the Tidings of Great Joy and Peace on Earth, Good will to all the people of the earth. The important role of our men in society was demonstrated through the action of these Shepherds.
So, let the language of hate be replaced by the language of Compassion. Let us work together, exercising our various gifts and talents, so that Justice will prevail over treachery, good over evil, freedom over slavery and equality over discrimination.
by Nelcia Robinson | Coordinator