Friday, December 14, 2012

Spirituality: Gustavo Gutierrez, "The God of Life"

It is often said at Christmas that Jesus is born into every family and every heart. But these "births" must not make us forget the primordial, massive fact that Jesus was born of Mary among a people that at the time were dominated by the greatest empire of the age. If we forget that fact, the birth of Jesus becomes an abstraction, a symbol, a cipher. Apart from its historical coordinates the event loses its meaning. To the eyes of Christians the incarnation is the bursting in of God into human history: an incarnation into littleness and service in the midst of overbearing power exercised by the mighty of this world; an irruption that smells of the stable.

The Christian faith is an historical faith. God is revealed in Jesus Christ and through him in human history. Only by starting from this point is it possible to believe in God. Believers cannot place themselves above history and watch life pass. We must learn to believe out of the concrete conditions of our life: in the midst of oppression and repression, but also in the midst of the struggles and hopes that exist in Latin America today. Under dictatorships that sow death among the poor as well as in the democracies that barter away their needs; in the civil war raging in El Salvador; in the harassment experienced by the heroic, long-suffering people of Nicaragua... No, ever since the first Christmas, it has been impossible to separate Christian faith and human history. We discover Christ in our own here and now. Christmas celebrates the very historical fact that it is the basis on which Jesus can say, if you gave food to the poorest, you gave it to me, and if you failed to do so, you failed to give it to me. The judgment of history will permit no equivocation.