But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. 15He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, so that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, 16and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it.
The theme for World AIDS Day, December 1st, this year, was “End inequalities. End AIDS.” A fitting theme in many ways given what we have endured for the past almost two years with the COVID-19 pandemic and its sad effects. Among the many things this pandemic has revealed is the persistent inequalities that continue to plague us as a human family. These disparities wear many different faces, occupy many spaces, and pose a singular threat to our efforts at achieving a more just and peaceful world.
Inevitably, some get left behind thereby becoming more vulnerable and dispensable. Our feelings of superiority and inferiority become more entrenched as the most ludicrous and misplaced estimations of who or what we value are further exaggerated. From the hoarding of the vaccines by some countries at the detriment of others; to the economic arrangements that keep many poor and make the few richer; to the contentions about who possess more truth and validity when it comes to science, medicine, religion, and the like: they all point to a yet-to-be-realized vision of what the Incarnation of God in Christ Jesus is meant to manifest in our lives and in the relationships we share. We know there is a lot of work to be done. The evidence is all around us.
The claim of the Christian Faith is that Christ came to end our inequalities and, as the passage from the Letter to the Ephesians says, to break ‘down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us.’ St Paul again says it well when he writes in Romans 10.12, 1 Corinthians 12.13, Galatians 3.28, and other places, emphasizing the demand of Divine Love for the inclusion of all irrespective of the things we often use to divide, exclude, and even diminish each other. The alternative we must subscribe to is one of mutuality, humility, understanding, compassion and appreciation – all of which must find expression in word and deed, of course.
The core message of the Christmas Season is really a simple one. We are called to love, value and respect the other who also bears the image of the Incarnate God in the same way we do. The command to love does not come with conditions. The commitment to care does not require we first determine if the person qualifies by our standards or belongs to our tribal construct. The commission to share this Good News and make the world a better place has no exceptions – none whatsoever.
We are equal in God’s eyes and that, my sisters and brothers, is non-negotiable.
17So he [Christ] came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; 18for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, 20built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. 21In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; 22in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling-place for God.
A most blessed, safe, and enjoyable Christmas and New Year to you and your family from the Clergy and people of the Anglican Diocese of Belize. Amen.
Bishop Philip Wright
Anglican Diocese of Belize