When everyone was expecting a militant messiah, God came to us in a baby named Jesus. As he grew and began his ministry, people had a hard time believing he was the Messiah because he did everything the opposite of what the people expected. Instead of overthrowing the Roman rule, he instructed his followers to love their enemies. When his hometown rejected him, he did not retaliate, or call down fire on them, or ask his disciples to attack them. And when he knew that the Roman soldiers had come for him, to crucify him, he healed the ear of the one whom his disciples injured. With his dying breath, he sought forgiveness, not retaliation.
Sadly, many of us are still looking for that militant messiah. In fact, we’ve so perverted the Jesus whose birth we have just celebrated that we have blamed him for the killing of innocent children in Newtown Connecticut. For what else do you call it when you say that the reason this senseless attack occurred is because God was evicted from public schools? If Jesus is the visible example of the invisible God, if the will of God and Jesus are one and the same, if we believe in one God, and that Jesus is the Word made flesh, then we are accusing Jesus of killing these children when we say that this attack is the result of a retaliatory God.
How can you reconcile the Jesus who loved children (Mark 10:13-16), who forgave those who killed him (Luke 23:24), with a Jesus who perpetrates the killing of children? We run a grave risk when we attribute our human propensity to retaliation to the one who told us to turn the other cheek. It makes me sick to read the distorted way that many have blamed this terrible evil on the One who is Love, the One who is Light, the One who did not retaliate against those who killed him.
When the magi came looking for the King that was Jesus, the Jewish scholars were surprised. This baby was born right under their noses and they missed the significance of his birth. We have once again celebrated his birth, and I’m afraid we too have missed the significance of his birth and his life because we are still looking for a militant messiah, one who will smite our enemies and lift us high, instead of one who calls us to love our enemies and preached that the last will be first.