A Child Is Born

Sometime around two thousand years ago, somewhere within that place just beyond the northeast of Africa, to some family unknown and unnamed, a child is born. Born into a turbulent time and place, forced to flee. Born poor, and born refugee.
 
There are two plausible pictures you may paint of Jesus: 
 
Of a lion: A man in flesh, pauper, peasant, Israelite. Son and brother, by blood and nature, un-immaculate. Devotee disciple and promising protégé of The Baptist, until fatefully filling a leadership void unexpected and unsought for, brought about by the beheading, the capital punishment of the one who was supposed to be Messiah, the one to whom the nascent Christ was follower, believer, apostle. Novice and neophyte, yet potent and irresistible, apocalyptic preacher. Zealous troublemaker. Passionate proponent of radical, revolutionary politics. Criminal, vandal, terrorist. Freedom fighter. To the powerful and to the layperson – just another of many upon the streets and inside the temples. To the hammer, the nails, and to the crows – just another of many on a cross upon a hillside.
 
Of a lamb: A symbol only, an amalgamation of men, women, and ideas. A coalescence of personalities, of sermons, of spirits, with no grounding, no historicity tethered to any one person, formed from the collective hope of the wretched, an imagined liberator made real in retrospect, appropriated by the oppressor, distorted, white-washed, lost, found, invoked, denounced. Not flesh but a concept, unrealistic yet admirable, of peace and pacifism, not tied to a man, his words and his actions, though borne out as far as is possible by many a verifiable, undeniable person.
 

There was very likely never an historical, actual, individual Jesus. Rather he is a fiction, one of importance and a potentially immense force for good worth following, but a fiction nonetheless, a cumulative representative of so many real people of that time and place: preachers, refugees, and freedom fighters all become one, one around and behind whom people could rally, one about whom people could write, and tell, and sing. A baby born, innocent and loved, to desperate parents in dire situations, barred entry and refused sanctŕuary, shut out and shut down, a childhood on the run, hunted, persecuted, a young adulthood of revolutionary politics, of challenging the purportedly unchallengeable, of fighting back, passionate for peace and a profound concern for one’s people and homeland, but misunderstood and misrepresented to the masses, feared, and an untimely, undignified, unfair death.

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