The new Herod

Image: Jeswin Thomas
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By LEONARDO BOFF*

Benjamin Netanyhau and the killing of innocents in Gaza

Nowadays we are witnessing the biblical account being updated: a fierce king, jealous of his power, orders the killing of all children under one year old. Today's Herod has a name: Benjamin Netanyhau. In its vengeful rage, its military, air, sea and land forces murdered thousands of children, many of whom lie under the rubble, in addition to thousands of other civilians who do not even belong to the Hamas group. We cannot let this tragedy overshadow the radiant celebration of Christmas. She is too precious not to be remembered and celebrated.

Let's return to the story that fills us with enchantment, even after more than two centuries. Joseph and Mary, his wife, who is nine months pregnant, are on their way from Nazareth, from the north of Palestine to the south, in Bethlehem. They are poor like most Mediterranean artisans and peasants. At the gates of Belém, currently devastated by Benjamin Netanyahau's troops, Maria goes into labor: she holds her belly, as the long walk has accelerated the gestation process. They knock on the door of an inn. They hear what the poor in history always hear: “there is no room for you in the inn” (Luke 2,7:XNUMX).

They lower their heads and walk away worried. How will she give birth? She had an animal stable in the neighborhood. There is a manger with straw, an ox and a donkey that, strangely, remain quiet, watching. She gives birth to a boy among the animals. It's cold. She wraps him in cloths and arranges him on the straws. Whimpers loudly like all newborns.

There are shepherds who watch at night, watching over their flock. According to the legal purity criteria of the time, shepherds were considered impure and therefore despised – because they were always around animals, their blood and excrement. The idyllic vision of the Greeks and Romans who idealized the figure of shepherds was different. But it is these poor and unclean Hebrew shepherds who are the first to see the Puer divinus, the divine child.

Surprisingly, a light surrounded them and they heard a voice from on high announcing to them: “Do not be afraid, I announce to you a great joy that is for all the people; the Savior has just been born; This is the sign: you will find a child wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” As they set out, hurriedly on their way, they heard a wonderful song, with many voices, coming from on high: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men beloved by God” (Luke 2:8-18). They arrived and everything that had been communicated to them was confirmed: there was a boy, shivering, wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger, in the company of animals.

Some time later, behold, three wise men from the East are coming down the path. They knew how to interpret the stars. They arrive. They are entranced by the mystery of the situation. They identify in the boy the one who would heal the wounded human existence. They bow, reverently, and leave symbolic gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh. With light hearts and wonder, they took their way back, avoiding the city of Jerusalem, as a terribly warlike “Netanyhau” reigned there, ready to order the death of anyone who had visited the divine child.

Lesson: God entered the world, in the dead of night, without anyone knowing. There is no pomp or glory, which we would imagine suitable for a boy who is God. But he preferred to arrive outside the city, among animals. He was not mentioned in the chronicles of the time, neither in Bethlehem, nor in Jerusalem, much less in Rome. However, there is the One that the universe was gestating within itself for billions of years, that “true light that illuminates every person who comes into this world” (John 1,10:XNUMX). God did not come to divinize human beings, He came to humanize Himself together with us.

We must respect and love the way God wanted to enter this world: anonymous as anonymous are the great poor and despised majority of humanity. I wanted to start at the bottom so as not to leave anyone out. Their humiliated and offended situation was one that God himself wanted to make his.

But there are also wise men and men who study the stars of the universe, cosmologists, who capture the mystery of all things behind appearances. They glimpse this boy with his shivering body, who wets his cloths, whimpers and searches, hungry, for his mother's breast, the Supreme Meaning of our journey and of the universe itself. For them it is also Christmas.

It’s true what they say: “Every boy wants to be a man. Every man wants to be king. Every king wants to be God. Only God wanted to be a boy.”

This is one side, auspicious: a ray of light in the middle of the dark night. A little light has more right than all the darkness.

But there is another side, dark and also tragic, mentioned above. There is a “Netanyhau” who is not afraid to murder innocent people. José, attentive, soon realizes: he wants to have the newborn boy killed. He flees to Egypt with Mary and the sleeping boy on her lap, seeks the breast and goes back to sleep.

Thousands of children were murdered on land in the Gaza Strip. Then one of the most moving laments in all of Scripture was heard: “A voice was heard in Ramah, much weeping and groaning: it is Rachel who weeps for her murdered children and does not want to be comforted because she has lost them forever” (Mt 2,18:XNUMX) .

The Herods are also perpetuated in history for four years in Brazil under the ineligible and currently in Palestine. However, there will always be a star, like the one in Bethlehem, to light our paths. No matter how wicked the Herods are, they cannot prevent the sun from rising each morning, bringing us hope, especially the one who was called “the sun of hope.” ”.

This joy is unprecedented: our humanity, weak and mortal, from Christmas onwards began to belong to God himself. That's why something of ours has already been eternalized by Puer aeternus which assures us that the Herods of death will never triumph.

Merry Christmas to everyone with great compassion for so many victims in Gaza, with light and discreet joy.

*Leonardo Boff he is a theologian. Author, among other books, of The sun of hope: Christmas, stories, poems and symbols (sea ​​of ​​ideas).


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