December 24, 2021-
In the season of accountability, circa 4 B.C., a Child infused with extraordinary spiritual power began moving down His mother’s birth canal, whilst His parents were seeking lodging, in a town where all comfortable rooms were long claimed by more well-healed travelers, most of whom were in town on taxpayer business.
By dint of necessity, the Child’s father secured a spot in a manger, with the land owner’s livestock as the family’s companions for the evening. The Child was born in the early morning hours, with the family huddled among the animals for warmth, the landowner having also given them a few hide blankets out of concern for mother and baby.
The veritable cave where Jesus, son of Joseph, was born has a superstructure built over it: The Church of the Nativity. Within that house of worship are three distinct chapels: One, Roman Catholic; one, Greek Orthodox and one, Armenian Apostolic. The territory of each is clearly demarked, and very closely guarded by the adherents of each denomination. It is now, however, a UNESCO World Heritage Site , requiring co-operation between the three, as well as between the State of Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Prior to this status being conferred, in 2012, the three shrines were like silos, unto themselves, despite a 250-year-old agreement between three denominations’ leaders, for the preservation of the edifice. The point of agreement that made any co-operation possible was the recognition that the grotto, over which the church was built, was the site of the birthplace of Jesus the Christ. Like any agreement made in perpetuity between leaders of a given time, its meaning’s understanding has ebbed and flowed, fluctuating with successive generations, and newcomers to the area, adding their own interpretations.
Thus, the silos rise and contain the adherents to these philosophies, who eschew any fellowship with those of different viewpoints. Thus has even the most sacred of places become a focal point of human narcissism, whether individual or collective.
May the 2021st Celebration of Christ’s Birth be a day when such fellowship be given honour. We have seen the futility of its opposite number.