Over the centuries there have been many powerful leaders in our world. In the last 100 years we have had Tzar in Russia, Hitler in Germany, Mugabe in Zimbabwe, Idi Amin in Uganda and Mussolini in Italy. Some of these leaders seize power but many of them were elected and were popular in their own countries. They all believed that they knew what was best for their own people and for the world and that their rule would make a difference to the wellbeing of the people. But we know power can corrupt and all of these leaders left their countries in a far worse state than they found them.
Many people get involved in politics believing in the democratic system. If they make it into a position of power, they too feel that they can change things for the better. Many others are believers in the power of Education. They believe that by educating the people, they will change their lives for the better and this will lead to a better, more just world. We are all people of hope, looking ahead, looking to live in better times.
The Jewish people at the time of Christ lived in very harsh circumstances. Palestine was a conquered country and the Jews lived under Roman occupation and all that that entailed. Invasion and conquest were nothing new to the Jewish people. The Assyrians had conquered and destroyed the Northern Kingdom. The Babylonian armies had conquered Judaea and exiled the whole population to Babylon. The Jews were to spend 70 years in exile.
In their darkest hours the people never lost their hope that a Messiah would come and rescue them from their cruel fate and liberate them. Their Messiah would be a great military and political leader like their greatest kings, David and Solomon.
However, God’s way was not mans’ way. The Messiah, when he came, was not born in a great palace but in a stable, as a helpless child, born to a young woman named Mary. Jesus brought salvation to the world in a way that no one expected or foresaw. His life by any standard was a failure. His few supporters deserted him when he was crucified. His death looked like the end of the road, the end of the Christian way.
Yet, the coming of Christ which we celebrate on Sunday has made such a difference to humanity over the last two thousand years. To this day Christ has no political power. He invites us to welcome him into our lives and to show the world how the life of faith can bring salvation and redemption to the people. Christ is with us in the ordinary and simple ways of our daily lives. If we stay with him, he fills our lives with light and life and hope. Despite all the difficulties, his love leads to a happiness and joy that ‘no eye has seen or ear heard’. Jesus is our Messiah. It is his birth that we will be celebrating at Christmas time.