Two thousand years ago Jews in Palestine believed John the Baptist to be the messiah who would end the Roman occupation. It must have been an unbelievable shock when Herod had him arrested and killed.
Apparently the Roman government perceived a similar threat in Jesus because his execution on the cross was uniquely Roman. But this time it would end differently. Eventually this man who began life like everyone else, as a newborn baby, would become the inspiration for Western Civilization. In his own time however, he embodied a victory beyond the reach of the Romans.
Pope Francis’s Tweets about Advent have influenced my thoughts about Christmas this year. The religion of my youth didn’t have much to say about its observance but I’ve learned that Advent is ‘a period of spiritual preparation for the coming of the Lord’. My interpretation of this is that Christianity is not simply a straight line from the birth of Jesus to his return at the apocalyptic end of the world. Jesus returns every year.
Obviously the religion that Jesus inspired addresses a different set of problems than those addressed by John the Baptist. However Christianity has more in common with Judaism than it ever had with the Mysteries. The Mysteries were a serious rival in the time of Jesus and they continue to compete with the Christian religion today. They tell of a different sort of fisherman from the one known in the gospels. The fisherman of the Mysteries is cruel and merciless. Robert Eisler took great care to make this distinction in his book, Orpheus The Fisher, but that’s a discussion for another time. Today there is a newborn babe lying in a manger.
“Christ is born for us, let us rejoice in the day of our salvation.” (Pope Francis@pontifex)