Christmas, basically, is a commemoration of the violation of human rights. When he was born, Jesus Christ was denied the right to food, shelter and clothing. He had no home to be born. The son of man came as the representative of the homeless, the poor, the naked and the neglected. Christ was born in Bethlehem, which means the home of bread, but the ‘bread of life’ was born in a poor family of Joseph and Mary. When he was born, the empire was threatened. The birth signalled a new era of justice and peace and this had prompted forces of empire or the powers that-be to try all tricks to do away with him. I don’t see much change in the social fabric of the world even today. In the place of empire, we have the forces of neo-colonialism. Many policies of economic globalization are proving to be disastrous for the poor and the marginalized. The gap between the rich and poor is ever-widening. The number of homeless people in India is on the rise. People are increasingly being marginalized on the basis of caste, class and gender. The message of Christmas acquires more meaning in the context of gross violation of human rights and increasing social injustice. The challenge of Christmas, therefore, is to behold. Jesus Christ among the poor and the oppressed. We can see the spirit of Christmas and the message of social justice being reflected and appropriated in several contemporary movements for justice. From the Occupy Wall Street movement in the US to the Jasmine revolution that has stunned the Middle East, we can feel that spirit. On the eve of Christmas, the massive protest by youth in New Delhi against the gang rape of a girl reminds us of the uncompromising fights Jesus Christ had undertaken for justice. He had stood for the freedom and dignity of all people, especially women and other marginalized communities.Like in the past few years, I will be spending Christmas with the people who are struggling for their land rights in Chengara. It is in places like Chengara where I see contemporary expressions of the divine incarnation of God in Christ. According to the Bible, Christmas is about God pitching his tent among tent dwellers. In Chengara, there are thousands of tents that have been pitched by the landless and homeless dalits and tribals. I can see a baby Christ in each of those tents.
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