Christmas In The Rubble

Where is “Peace on earth”?

Mark Raja
5 min readDec 24, 2023
The newborn Jesus is swaddled in a kaffiyeh amid rubble in a Nativity scene expressing solidarity with the people of Gaza at the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in the West Bank city of Bethlehem. © Washington Post

“The city night is dark except for the glow of missiles,
quiet except for the sound of bombs,
terrifying except for the comfort of prayer,
black except for the light of those who have been killed,
Good night, Gaza.”
Heba Abu Nada, 8 Oct ‘23
(Her final tweet before she died on 20 Oct ‘23)

Thousands were killed in the recent Israel and Gaza conflict. Many have perished in the rubble, of which most of them were innocent children. Similarly, thousands of children were displaced in Manipur due to state-sponsored conflict. They are languishing in relief camps or temporary shelters across the region. Their homes and villages were erased to the ground.

Needless to mention, the earthquake in Turkey, the ongoing Russia — Ukraine war, the crisis in Yemen, the conflict in Myanmar, the global economic crisis, the pandemic, and on and on. Amid war, violence and devastation, what does “Peace on earth” mean?

Herod the Great (72 BCE — 4 BCE) was a Roman Jewish client king of the Herodian Kingdom of Judea. He is known for his colossal building projects throughout Judea. When he heard the news that a king of the Jews was born, he was furious. Along with him all of Jerusalem was troubled. This means a threat to him and his dynasty. He tried his best to kill baby Jesus but he failed to find Jesus, hence, he ordered the execution of all male children who were two years old and under in the vicinity of Bethlehem so that by any chance Jesus would not survive. Bethlehem wept bitterly and refused to be comforted.

Two thousand years later today, an installation of the baby Jesus in the rubble is set up in a church in Bethlehem, in the West Bank, symbolizing a cry for peace in Palestine where over five thousand innocent children were killed in Gaza in the last couple of months. Have we come full circle?

Mahatma Jotiba Phule, a social reformer from India likens Jesus to Baliraja (a mythical aboriginal king of Asuras) who offered himself to save his people from Vamana and is believed to return to restore his kingdom and his people. In that hope, the women-folk of Bali’s kingdom sang “Ida pida javo, Balica rajya yevo”. (Let troubles and sorrows go, and the kingdom of Bali come)”.

Phule says this Baliraja has returned, through his sacrifice on the cross and his resurrection he has defeated the evil king to set his people free from oppression and bondage by offering forgiveness and peace and establishing his kingdom of peace on earth as it is in heaven.

Christ, the prince of peace, is not a founder of a religion or an earthly kingdom. He is the king, but not any earthly king, a heavenly king. When he was born, the angels proclaimed, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests. If he is the king, what is this peace and where is it today?

The proud, arrogant, and hateful continue to create havoc in this world, be it Palestine, Ukraine, or India. The angel did not go to Herod or the high priest to announce the news but to the humble shepherds.

Jesus, teaching his kingdom manifesto, said, “‘Blessed are you who are poor (humble), for yours is the kingdom of God.” It is the humble shepherds who gave glory to God in the highest. Upon them, the peace of God rested. But the proud, and arrogant like Herod who seeks their glory bring chaos and destruction to themselves and those around them.

It is the humble shepherds who gave glory to God in the highest. Upon them, the peace of God rested.

As the well-known hymn says, “Joy to the world the Lord has come; Let earth receive her king.” Evil out there is not as big a problem as the evil within us. A proud and arrogant heart brings chaos. But in humbly receiving Christ, our Baliraja as our king and obeying him by turning from our selfishness, pride and envy within, we receive his forgiveness and his kingdom of righteousness, peace and joy.

There is no lasting peace outside his kingdom. The peace that Christ offers is not only an absence of war and evil which he will finally bring about but also righteousness and joy amidst chaos. Christ’s disciples, counted it all joy when they were persecuted or even killed because they knew he would raise them to a new creation just like him. Until Christ brings his judgement on all the proud, chaos will continue to be present around us, but his peace will sustain us amidst pain, and death.

Christ not only offers us peace but calls us to become peacemakers with him. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

This Christmas in the rubble, do you choose the way of pride inviting chaos into your life, relationships and community or in humility worship Christ and clear the rubble to make peace with God, your neighbour?

Let us quietly meditate on a portion of Christ’s manifesto of his kingdom.

“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”



Mark Raja

I mostly write to clarify my understanding. You will find my articles on themes like beauty, faith, hope, culture, and common good.