Reading the Bible inside a Jeepney: Celebrating Colonized Peoples' capacity to beat swords into ploughshares, to transform weapons of mass destruction into instruments of mass celebration: mortar shells into church bells, teargas canisters to flower pots, rifle barrels into flutes... U.S. Army Jeeps into Public Utility Jeepneys.
The first Christmas. We re-enact it almost every December in our school plays and in our church pageants. St. Francis started the tradition in the 1200s. In our re-enactments, Joseph and a very pregnant Mary find no room in any inn. No one is ready and willing to welcome the couple. Eventually, they find shelter among animals, in a manger, where Jesus is born. Soon, visitors arrive: angels, shepherds, even the Little Drummer Boy in some of our plays, and then the magi bringing gifts. Incidentally, in one TV spot I saw abroad, one of the magi brings the Baby Jesus the newest Android Smartphone. In an artwork going around in our social networks, the magi cannot visit Jesus because an apartheid wall blocks their path. In the image above, Mary and Joseph experience an IDF checkpoint. Our plays usually end on a happy note because we either end it with everyone singing carols or with a rendition of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus, sang by the choir or blasted through our sound systems. And we forget that the play ended the way it began: there was no room in the inn. In rare occasions we do find people going against the script. Sometimes, someone from the audience, someone from our congregations would volunteer to welcome Joseph, Mary, and Joseph to their homes. Sometimes, we hear someone crying out: “There is a place for them in our home.” Today is one of those times when we are challenged to affirm that “there is a place in our homes.” Today, more than ever, we need to go against the script. We cannot afford to close our doors. We cannot afford to put up walls. We cannot afford to be inhospitable. We cannot afford to spend Christmas without opening our homes to the Christ who confronts us through the least among the least: the hungry, the thirsty, the sick, the prisoners, the unclothed, the complete stranger, the orphan, the widow... the thousands left homeless and devastated in the Visayas by the tragedy we call Yolanda; the thousands victimized by years of unabated mining, logging, militarization, and the culture of impunity. Today, we are called to have open hearts, open minds, open homes, open tables, open doors...
*[image from cifwatch.com]