The obscenity of Israel's apartheid Wall at Bethlehem
I like Christmas. Not the frantic, frenzied stress that possesses some folks at this festive time. Not the Xmas variety. Or the Boxing Day brand. Not the secularisation of a holy day. Nope. I try to opt out of all that.
I like the story of Christmas. A homeless pregnant single mother and her older kindly partner looking for a place to stay. They famously end up in a stable. Probably a smelly little cave. That’s where baby Jesus was born. No grand palace, big mansion or fancy castle. Nope.
And Jesus was not blue eyed or blond haired. Jesus is a Palestinian. So, he probably was a little swarthy skinned black haired wee lad. Just like three year old Aylan Kurdi lying drowned on a beach in Turkey or other wee kids we see on television fleeing war and poverty and being rescued in the Mediterranean Sea, or scrambling for food in a refugee camp or playing in a bomb site in Gaza city.
I like the simplicity of Christmas. The warmth of it. If you are lucky to have friends and family. Like any good birthday celebration. The shepherds popping in for a quick 'Oh what a lovely wee baby' visit. The wise men - out on the tear following a star - leaving gifts. The donkey who carries a cross on his back to this day. I like all that.
And Joseph? Poor man. Almost written out of the story but obviously a decent man. He minded Mary and the baby Jesus. Even when Herod came calling he stayed calm. On the run with a baby and his mammy. That couldn’t have been easy.
And then after rearing that baby to see him go as a young man to be crucified. Little talk of Joseph at that terrible time on Calvary. Or all the years in between working away at the joinery to provide for his clann.
Joseph is one of my heroes. One of the good people that some of us are lucky to have in our lives. The good uncle. The kind father. The sound teacher or sports mentor. The decent man who tries to keep us right even if we are intent on doing it our way. Like his oldest lad.
We need more Joseph’s. And Mary’s. Like many Irish mammies Mary thought her son was God. And maybe she was right. She suffered in his coming and his going. It could not have been easy.
All the talk. The gossip. The rumours. Along with the teething, bedwetting, the tantrums, terrible twos and the other joys of baby rearing. But she survived. Like most women. She reared a good son despite it all. Like many Palestinian mammies.
So Christmas is her day also. I enjoyed it. Good food. Good company. A few drinks.
Now its time for a New Year. I wish you well. Bliain úr faoi mhaise daoibhse. Happy birthday Jesus. Lá breithe duit.
So pilgrims, especially Christians remember: Jesus is a Palestinian.
We still crucify him. Every day.