HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsWhat does that mean, ‘Compliments of the season’?

What does that mean, ‘Compliments of the season’?


Time and again our praisesingers and bootlickers liken their idols to Christ. Mere human beings are being raised to a divine status. What foolishness for a mere mortal to claim divinity! Ancient Kings and Emperors were such fools.


Tyrants expect to be worshipped with pseudo-religious rituals even today. This is blasphemy and arrogance.

We celebrate a new-born child. His message is exactly the opposite. The child is not born in a luxury mansion or royal palace, but in a cave, a shelter where the homeless hide.

Instead of arrogance and pride, there is humility and littleness. He does not want to be worshipped as an idol, but welcomed like a fellow human being, a child among children. Though of divine origin, he was born in human form (Phil. 2: 7).

Children are a most endangered species. They are massacred together with their mothers, their lifeless bodies tossed on rubbish heaps, they drown with their refugee parents crossing the sea.

They are abused and injured for life. They are enslaved by human traffickers and humiliated in brothels. So our newscasts tell us relentlessly.

But in this child, who is as vulnerable as all children, God himself is present. That makes this child infinitely precious.

The divine presence in this one child makes all children and all little ones infinitely precious.

If we have faith and welcome this child, we will have to welcome all children and all the little ones, those who “sit in

the shadow of death” and are neglected in this life; who are born HIV-positive and threatened by Ebola, by war and violence; who are neglected and despised for being of the “wrong” tribe, colour or religion.

Together with this one unique child born in that cave, God makes all children his own.

As such we have to welcome them, without discrimination.

“Every human being is entitled to respect for his/her life and to safety (art.4), and to respect for his/her dignity (art. 5),” says the African Charter on human and peoples’ rights.

“Slavery, torture, inhuman or degrading punishment and treatment are not allowed.”

If our leaders were driven by the desire to preserve the human dignity of us all, we would respect them, not as divine beings, but as truly human.

If they were concerned about the life and well-being even of their opponents, we would recognise in them our common humanity.

Tragically through their hate speech they deny that they are children of one and the same father.

The poverty and misery of our children and the unemployment and corrupting idleness of young men and women are not just the result of malfunctioning economics.

These evils are caused by the moral blindness of those in power, and by their spiritual illiteracy.

The “festive season” is upon us. It used to be called “Christmas”, but it has been emptied of all meaning. It is a family feast, but the focus is no longer on that unique family.

Commercialisation no longer allows the key biblical figures to appear. It’s a birthday, but we feel embarrassed to name the child.

Instead, we wish each other “Compliments of the Season”. What on earth is that supposed to mean?

Being loved means being precious and highly-valued. If we are no longer precious like that child, we lose respect for human worth and the respect we owe one another, including self-respect.

Without celebrating our humanity and its value, we will come to despise ourselves and one another.

People will be turned into cheap fuel for the running of machines, for political and economic gain.

The birthday we were celebrating should have brought about a rebirth of our humanity, and respect for one another as God’s children, and brothers and sisters of the Christchild.

His love for the little ones can be found in unexpected places. Believers of different faith communities may have sacred texts and traditions which
speak of our humanity and how precious it is.

Non-believers are by no means without humanity. The spirit of the Creator can guide them too.

One concrete way of making this rebirth of our humanity manifest would be to stop drinking and driving, and killing ourselves on the battlefields of our corroded highways during the “festive season”.

We celebrated a birthday, and the child born is infinitely precious, as are all other children. No one is dispensable.

No one is not worth the greatest possible care in preserving their lives.

As we celebrate new life, let us protect the lives of all. May I suggest that we start with the lives of strangers and enemies whom we mostly pretend not to know.
Let us not cringe in the dust before the high and mighty, but pick up the little ones and welcome them as fully human.

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