"You have made men like fish in the sea, like sea creatures that have no ruler.
The wicked foe pulls all of them up in his dragnet;
and he rejoices and is glad,
Therefore he sacrifices to his net
and burns incense to his dragnet,
for by his net he lives in luxury
and enjoys the choicest food.
Is he to keep on emptying his net,
destroying nations without mercy?" Habbakuk 1:13-17
Of course, Jesus calling Peter and Andrew, fishermen, to become "fishers of men" jumps immediately to mind. Jesus calls his disciples so that they can oppose the people who devour others for their own gain. This adds a social justice dimension to the fish as a Christian symbol. The fish--the little people--get a loving ruler, Jesus, who protects them from the wicked. There's a sense of lines drawn: Who will get the fish (us): those who bring death or those who offer salvation?
As I read the Christmas story while doing the Advent calendar with Will and Nick and Roger, I again see how oppositional it is. It offers an alternative universe and a transformed way of viewing the world. Yes, there is the Roman emperor and other kings and princes, who rule through warfare and violence, but we have a prince of peace. Secular princes may bring terror but our prince brings goodwill. Our king, according to Mary, stands for the oppressed and the humble. In all of this is a complete challenge to an order based on material wealth and violence.
The peace testimony--God's commitment to peace--is underlined in God's rebuke to the proud in Habbakuk: "Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed."
Jesus built his kingdom on peace, love, joy and humility.
"One of the greatest risks, I think, of living in a secular world ... is something I might call the Woody Allenization of everything. Too much reason. Too much self-awareness. Too much blah-blah. Too little wonder, and marvel and faith ... " Judith Warner, NYT, 12/23/08
The Christmas story gives us the gift of wonder, faith and miracle. Merry Christmas.
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