Fr. Jerry Kurian is a theological educator and public speaker with interests in blogging, social media, theatre, internet ethics, preaching, life skills and leadership training. He is Director of Diocese Development and Youth in the Bangalore Diocese of the Jacobite Syrian Church.
Thursday, December 22, 2016
The birth of Jesus: How Fr. Shibu and Kairunnissa are outing the inn (in)
St. Luke 2:6-7
The birth of Jesus is important not for cakes,
decorations and celebrations but to be assured that humans are created in the
image of God and will therefore live life loving and helping all that God
has created. This is God saying that God has created human beings to reflect
God’s self on earth. The birth of Jesus is indeed a happy event because it
reminds and inspires us to do good even when everyone and everything around us
does not. It is not to follow the world but to follow the voice and will of
The birth in unusual circumstances shows that the
people of God cannot be limited to buildings and walls but should extend
everywhere and anywhere because that is the real birth of Christ. The
interpretation of no place being there in the inn is a reflection that God
lives with the most ordinary of ordinary. Most of the things we have built on
earth are an aberration of God's creation. It takes us away from the real
birth of Christ. The church by moving into comfortable environs to celebrate
the birth of Christ suggests our moving in to comfortable inns while the baby is
denied a place inside the inn! The image of God is absent in such acts of
celebration of the birth of Jesus. We do not have an affluent baby Jesus
because a baby cannot be affluent by herself/himself.
The church has become too affluent for Jesus but all
is not lost for the church and the people of the church. One can get rid of the
affluence and try and make the birth of Jesus meaningful for everyone. Fr.
Shibu K.Y., a Jacobite Christian priest donated one kidney to a Muslim woman Kairunnissa
yesterday. By doing that he has challenged the affluent church to shed its
affluence. Many were disturbed and uncomfortable with his decision and even
suggested it was wrong to give away what God has given us to live a comfortable
life. The argument that we need two kidneys because that is what God has given does
not go along though with the fact that God was meant to be in heaven but chooses earth, was meant to be in the inn but ended up outside it and did not have to be crucified but was anyway. God gave up so that humans and the world would have
and that is the birth of Jesus.
Fr. Shibu K.Y.
Fr. Shibu and Kairunnissa are offering us the
opportunity to understand the birth narrative. We have gone far away from the
born Jesus. This is an opportunity to come back to the narrative of what the
birth of Jesus means. It is God loving and giving us. God need not but God does
because that is what God is. The love of God encompasses everything we know.
Fr. Shibu by giving and Kairunnissa by suffering and now receiving show us that
Christ is born in them. We are getting an invitation to pray with them during
Christmas. Of course we are not used to what they have done and so their
spiritual invitation will also be difficult to accept and do. Never the less
they have woken us up from institutional and individual slumber and we must
thank them for that. From my facebook contacts I have also learned that Prof.
Sakhi John is doing the same for Shaju Paul and they are following several
others who have preceded them. Such individuals are challenging the church and
the people in church to live Christmas or the birth of Jesus. The liturgy of
their merciful church is not known to us and we haven’t heard the songs they
are using. But there is a language of love that they are using and this is
something all of us can follow if we take the effort to do so.
Prof. Sakhi John
St. Luke 2: 6-7 tells us that Mary and baby Jesus do
not get space in the inn (‘in’). It is also that space in the inn is mostly not
available to everyone as the inn has become institutional. It represents all
churches which are not welcoming and loving. But Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus do
not give up. They make the ‘out’ their home and that then becomes the place
which the shepherds and the elders come to and see Jesus. Fr. Shibu and Kairunnissa
and Prof. Sakhi and Shaju Paul among many others have not got a place in the
inn (‘in’). But they did not give up and made the ‘out’ their inn. We can now
join like the shepherds and see the birth that has happened. May the star lead
us and the angels rejoice.