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8 December 2013
posted by Canon Dakin on 11-12-2013

2nd Sunday of Advent

John the Baptist was not in fancy dress; he was presenting himself as a successor to the ancient prophets, a man like Samuel, for instance. Now the point about the prophets is that they were not concerned just with spiritual matters; thay were sent to interfere in politics, to face down kings.  So John the Baptist, when he wades into the Sadducees and Pharisees, is not giving them a verbal whipping because they were not as virtuous in their private lives as they professed to be, he is criticising the way they had structured society, cutting themselves off from ordinary people whom they regarded simply as sources of the tax revenue that kept them in comfort. John’s message was a social one. So was Paul’s in today’s second reading. Isaiah in the first reading was painting a picture of an ideal king, an ideal that was never realised in Jewish history.  Christians accepted it as a portrait of Jesus and the kingdom he founded. Paul draws out the consequences for us. ‘You are to treat each other in the same friendly way as Christ treated you’.           No problem.  No? Muslims? Do we welcome them? Should we welcome them?  First point: they didn’t worm their way into this country.  The gates were opened by political idealists who reckoned that a mixture of cultures would be enriching.  They were naive. Social scientists have pointed out that a community can peacefully accomodate strangers if they form no more than 20% of the whole group, but naturally as they entered the country they concentrated in the areas where they could find work and where they had the support of those who shared their culture. It is to the credit of places in East Lancashire, for instance, where the concentration has been greatest, that the two cultures, Christian and Muslim,  have peacefully coexisted - and this in spite of secular liberals in town halls sometimes doing their best, for instance,  to suppress Christmas on the grounds of not offending those of a different religion. The fact is that Muslims honour Jesus and Mary and are happy that Christians celebrate the birth of Christ. I am not advocating unrestricted immigration whilst it is not racism to wish to impose a limit so long as you are arguing on the basis of the common good. I am abstracting from the politics.  I want to go back to St Paul: You are to treat each other as Christ treated you. Christian universalism, the universal kingdom of Christ,  is based on our faith that Christ came to earth to give his life for all. He is the measure of the dignity of every human person;  every person, of whatever colour or culture, is worth the death of Christ and is therefore worthy of our respect.

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