Christmas always has its idilio. There can be no sadness when life is born, especially when Jesus, the puer aeternus, the Divine Child, comes into the world. There are angels singing, the star of Bethlehem shining, the shepherds watching their flock overnight. But principally there are Mary, the good Joseph and the Child lying in the manger, “because there was no room for them in the inn”. And behold there also appeared, coming from the Orient, wise men called magi, who opened their coffers and offered Him gold, incense and myrrh, mysterious symbols. But there was also a bad king, Herod, very cruel, so cruel that he even executed his whole family. Herod heard that in Bethlehem, the city of David, a child had been born who would be the Savior. Afraid of loosing his throne, he ordered that all the boys under two years old in Bethlehem and surrounding area be killed. The sacred texts preserve one of the most painful wails of all the New Testament: ”In Ra’má a voice was heard, lamentation, crying, and great mourning, Rachel wept for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not” (Matthew 2,18).
Christmas this year brings to mind the present day Herods who are destroying our children and youth. Between 2007 and 2019, 57 children and youth under 14 years of age have died in Brazil due to stray bullets in police actions. Just this year, 2019, the Platform of Cross Fire reports that 6 children and 19 teenagers lost their lives in Rio de Janeiro in police actions. In Rio’s metropolitan region there have been 6,058 shootouts, with 2,301 persons shot, of which 1,213 were killed and 1,088 gravely wounded. Causing more clamor was the case of Agatha Félix, an 8 year old girl killed by a stray riffle bullet to the back when she was inside a kombi van going home with her mother. Their names deserve mention. Just a few years older, they shared the destiny of the innocent children killed by Herod: Jenifer Gomes,11; Kauan Peixoto, 12; Kauã Rozário, 11; Kauê dos Santos, 12; Agatha Félix, 8; and Ketellen Gomes, 5 years old. The Governor of Rio de Janeiro and his ferocious police are accused of crimes against humanity, because he orders attacks on communities with helicopters and drones, terrorizing the people. Mayor Marcelo Crivella confessed that in the communities’ 436 schools, the children lost 7000 hours of classes due to police operations.
Together with Vanessa Francisco Sales, the mother of Agatha Félix, who carried her little daughter’s doll in the funeral, let there be heard the voices of the Biblical Rachel: the mothers of the Morro do Alemão, of Jacarezinho, of the Chatuba de Mesquita, of the Vila Moretti de Bangu, of the Complejo de Chapadão, of Duque de Caxias, of Vila Cruzeiro in the Complexo de Penha, of Maricá. Let’s hear their lamentations:
“Many voices are heard, many cries and many wails. The mothers cry for their beloved sons and daughters, killed by stray bullets. They do not want to be consoled , because they have lost their beloved children forever. They ask for an answer that does not come from anywhere. With tears and many lamentations we plead that the killing of our children stop. For the love of God stop the killing. We want our children alive. We demand justice”.
This is the context of this 2019 Christmas, worsened by an official policy that uses the perverse means of lies, fake news, anger and visceral hatred. Jesus was born poor and lived poor all his life. And there comes a President who often has the name of Jesus on his lips, but not in his heart, because he throws insults to the LGBT, the Blacks, the Indigenous, the quilombolas (Afro-Brazilians who live in the quilombos) and the women.
The President openly says that he does not like the poor, that is, he does like those of whom Jesus said: “Blessed are the poor” and called them, “my younger brothers and sisters”, and that “in the end of life they will be our judges“ (Matthew 25,40). That he does not like the poor means that he does not want to govern for the majority of Brazilians, who are poor and even miserable; for whom he would primarily govern and care.
In spite of all that, Christmas must be celebrated. It is dark, but we celebrate the humanity and joyfulness of our God. God made himself into a helpless child. What happiness it is to know that we will be judged by a child that only wants to play and to accept and give love.
May Christmas gives us a little of the light that comes from the Star that filled the shepherds of the fields of Bethlehem with joy and that guided the wise magi to the grotto. “Its light illuminates all the persons who come to this world” (John 1,9), to you and to me, to all, not only to those who have been baptized. Merry Christmas.
Leonardo BoffEco-Theologian-Philosopher,Earthcharter Commissioner
Free translation from the Spanish sent by
Melina Alfaro, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Done at REFUGIO DEL RIO GRANDE, Texas, EE.UU.