Monday, December 03, 2012
Advent 2012 : Day 2
Rise and fall
across the earth like
tides at God’s command:
men raise their hands in protest
and are swept aside; in desperate hope,
to no avail. The Mighty One, at whose
command the sun and moon ride
out across the sky, calls
peoples forth, sets
limits to their
reach in space
and time: they
flood forth, then ebb
away. The very moment
chaos looks to have the upper
hand, it turns, becomes the cradle
of new life, the land set free to dream.
Held in the purposes of God my Saviour,
my spirit will rejoice, though all
surface-signs say otherwise;
for deeper currents
sway my heart
Luke’s Gospel sets the birth of Jesus against the backdrop of an Occupied Territory. The account of Roman governance is confused. Cynics cite this as an example of the Bible being inaccurate and unreliable, to be dismissed. But that is to fail to appreciate what a text is. A text is always accurate and reliable; one must simply ask, what does this accurately and reliably reveal?
In this case, not an accurate and reliable record of Roman activity, but an accurate and reliable insight into how the Romans were understood – and, misunderstood – by people swept up in a frontier of their Empire. A text written from the perspective of the Gauls or the Britons would be just as confused as to the workings of Rome; the focus, expressing how occupation disrupted life for the occupied.
The relationship between occupier and occupied has ever been thus. (The relationship between immigrant peoples and host populations shares much of the same conflicting histories and misunderstandings.) Nonetheless, these circumstances have their part in those things Mary treasured up and pondered in her heart...