My country is burning. Various parties stoked the fire of polarisation over the years. Now it has grown into an uncontrollable wildfire. The government gave birth to a CAA and NRC as a result of a union with majoritarianism. The irony is, as someone tweeted, that the State is attacking its citizens in the name of people who are not its citizens. It’s a question of belonging. It’s a question of brotherhood. Who is my brother? Who is my sister? Who is an ‘other’?
Jesus was once asked by an expert of the law, “Who is my neighbour?”
Through a strange parable popularly known as that of the Good Samaritan (that would make a fellow Jews squirm in his seat), Jesus narrated who a neighbour is:
The one you hate the most is your neighbour. The one you hate the most may have more goodness in him than in you. The one whom a Jew of the time seemed to hate the most (A Samaritan) was the protagonist in the parable. And he helped and cared for, which fellow Jews in the parable didn’t.
The parable is an introduction to the deep love that the Bible talks about. Often it doesn’t match our understanding of love. There is a redrawing of boundaries in this kind of love, when it comes to deciding who is in and who is out.
Jesus approves a summary of the whole of God’s law in two sentences. One of them talks about loving God with all of one’s heart, one’s soul, one’s strength and one’s mind. The other summary of the whole law simply says, love your neighbour as yourself.
And that’s what Jesus Christ came to show – that a new world, a new community is possible, solely on the basis of love. He told us that love is the only way for this world to be saved from… itself.
So God, who is love, came down and lived among us, died and rose again, showing that a community of love was the future, and that is the only community that has a future, lest we kill each other and die, believing our own lies.
That’s also why he said that the religious laws were not enough. One had to have love – a love that knew Love (God); one that was in action towards one’s neighbour (the ‘other’ who is not you or like you). People followed him when he said that, because they felt they belonged there. And that got him into political and religious trouble, because more people began to believe in love, and no one could stop them being part of this invisible yet visible Kingdom. He was crucified for that love.
He called that community the Kingdom of God. That’s because he believes the real God is love. And true love, went to die for the world on a cross, and said, love is the only way. And the cross is an invitation to this community of love. Anyone who believes that love is the only way, like Jesus did? You too are invited, and called to be part of this community. In fact everyone who believes in love is. It’s called the Kingdom of God.
It’s the Kingdom in which citizenship is free. It’s the Kingdom where your only identity is love. God is love. As a result, the name, Kingdom of God. Welcome to the Kingdom where your Aadhar card number or social security number is simply four letters : L-O-V-E.
It’s the nation which has no borders. No one can be an illegal migrant in it. Some who flee to it are refugees from other nations that were founded on man-made constitutions which had a vision but lacked the heart and the will to implement it. You see, a constitution without a heart is persecution.
Luke 2 talks about Caesar Augustus conducting a census. Jesus’ father Joseph and mother Mary had to make the arduous journey of over 167 km from Nazareth to Galilee, just because the ruler wanted to count his people. A census, besides providing date on a territory’s citizens also reveals information on who is not part of it. It includes and excludes at the same time. Just as the NRC and the NPR in India would (2019: you don’t need to be an urban naxal – God knows what it means – to know that).
But anyone who believes in that love, “a love that loves so much that I will die for you kinda love,” can be a citizen of the kingdom of God, this nation, this community, which Jesus taught us about. And when one experiences that kind of love, one tends to realise:
This is where I belong.
This is the community I am a part of.
I am a citizen of a nation of mad lovers.
So Christmas is about a Jesus Christ who was born to bring about a Citizenship Amendment Act – An amendment that would make us all citizens of this nation of lovers.
While the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) that was passed in India towards the dusk of 2019 seeks to exclude specific communities, the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) of Jesus Christ through Christmas seeks to include everyone.
It seeks to tell everyone that we are capable of a powerful love which unites us, despite our differences. While the CAA of India causes fear, hatred, violence and riots, the CAA of Jesus gives rise to peace and love.
The Citizenship Amendment Act, went on to be a Character Amendment Act on the cross of Calvary. There, we were shown that love can save, love can transform, love is the way and that the heart of everything is love in the heart. From our outward displays, the focus shifts to a change in our hearts. Consequently that leads to a change in our character. We become people of nothing but love.
This Christmas, may I extend the invitation to be part of this community of a radical kind of love to each one of you, no matter what religion or ideology you belong to.
May the blessings of Christmas be yours.
Rev. Mathews George
firstname.lastname@example.org | @mtwsgeorge