Jim Keane, SJ, in America:
Most of us are familiar with some variation of the King James Bible’s translation of John 1:14: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” If one looks at the original Greek of the Gospel of John, however, one finds that “dwelt among us” doesn’t quite capture the true meaning of the phrase. You can see the original Greek variants here (sorry, I couldn’t get the fonts to work to show it here).
It’s the phrase “kai eskenosen en emin” that is translated “and dwelt among us,” a phrase that the translators obviously thought made more sense in our culture (and that of King James) than what the Greek actually says: “and he set up his tent in our midst.” It’s been rendered many times, many ways over the years, as he “tabernacled among us” and more, but that’s the basic sense of it. But how can this be? What kind of people set up tents among us? Is this Jesus as Occupy protestor?
Too much of a stretch, to imagine Christ on the side of the tent-dwellers in so many of our public spaces this fall protesting economic injustice and plutocracy? Then remember some of the words Mary sings when she discovers she will give birth to the Messiah:
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
Happy Christmas Eve. Occupy Earth.