My kingdom is not of this world. . . Christmas 2023

The Gospel according to Mathew starts with the question about the birth of the King of the Jews, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews?” (Mathew 2:2). Legend holds that the fourth Magi’s search for the Messiah ended when he ultimately reached Golgotha much after the Messiah was crucified – “And sitting down they watched him there; and set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS….. (Mathew 27: 36, 37) .

While being questioned whether he was the king of the Jews, Jesus responds “My kingdom is not of this world…” (John 18: 36). This resonates with what the writer of the fourth gospel records earlier that Jesus’ followers are ‘in’ the world but not ‘of’ the world (John 17: 13,14, 15).

While Mathew presents Jesus as ‘king of the jews’ amidst the shining star and Magi, Luke portrays Jesus’ birth with the angels and the shepherds as a matter of great Joy to the world. The writer of the Gospel according to Mark, however, starts with Jesus’ wilful enrolment into the call of John the Baptist. With no reference to Joseph (except Joseph of Arimathea) and without any reference to Mary as his mother, Mark presents Jesus as saying, ” …. whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother” (Mark 3: 31 – 35) indicating working the will of God as the primary purpose of mission in the world.

While migrants and the marginalised find a place in the Christmas story of Mathew and Luke, Mark and John sharpen the focus to challenge us to remind ourselves of working the will of God.

This year the birth of Jesus is observed amidst war and conflict, contexts that are sub-human to say the least. Left unchecked, these contexts lead to a depravity of human mind that is self-annihilating.

Through all the din that surrounds Christmas, let us recognise the still small voice that calls us to an introspection of where we are vis-a-vis working the will of God – a call to fall in line with the mission of Jesus, that call to which we have responded in faith through baptism. May the observances of Christmas propel us to witness to a barrier- free, non-hegemonic, casteless world that affirms diversity in pluriforms – in the world but with an ‘out of the world’ experience of joy and peace – a ‘kingdom’ that is not of this world.

Let us Rejoice in hope, Review life-mission, Re-orient foci, Relocate amidst people…

Merry Christmas

Rev. Asir Ebenezer
General Secretary, NCCI

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