'What has always frightened the rich and powerful has been the appearance from among the oppressed of self-confident leaders who prove their strength by organising in a way that could alter the balance of power.' (p39)
With that Tony Benn gets to the heart of Herod's panic. As we saw so well and wittily portrayed on this evening's first episode of the BBC's promising new Christmas drama, The Nativity, Jesus was born into a oppressed majority, ruled over by a greedy and paranoid client king.
'You must always ask yourselves whether it is possible to change the world in which you live,' Benn says. 'by accepting the world as it is you legitimise it and thereby become responsible in part for its iniquities.' (p38). What is noticeable about Benn is the way he stresses personal responsibility. He is not the kind of socialist who lazily attributes everything bad that happens to the mechanised forces of global capitalism. We each play our part, he says, in accepting injustice or battling to overcome it.
Jesus similarly calls each one of us to own our part in making the world what it is and to commit ourselves to his movement in changing it according to his agenda. Advent is the season when we get ready for this; when we examine ourselves, repent, receive forgiveness and immerse ourselves in the prophets whose vision of the coming Kingdom of Justice, joy, peace and equality is fulfilled in Jesus and passed on to us.
Tomorrow I'm blogging over at Hopeful Imagination and will be reflecting on Isaiah and the manger