J’ouvert is not far away. Ole mas 2022 coming! A time when the hapless citizen can make fun of the powerbrokers – in State, private sector, and Church. The man, the woman, without power, become powerful – the ole mas, the Calypso, the talk tent.
So too in the midnight Christmas gospel a subtle mockery is taking place: “Caesar Augustus issued a decree of a census of the whole world to be taken.” My, my! What ah powerful fella! He thinks he has the power to execute a “world census.” He calls himself ‘Augustus’ – ‘the venerable’, ‘worthy of reverence’, like some of the untouchables in our society, unimpeachable and above the law.
The Christmas story tells us God inverts such power relations by using the ‘non-entities’ of this world – Joseph, Mary, Jesus, Zechariah, Elizabeth, John the Baptist. God brought His J’ouvert to a grand climax in Jesus. He was turning power relations upside down. Caesar was given the title ‘god’, but the true God was coming, known to only a few. Real ole mas!
The coming of God into the world takes time which is what the recently completed Advent Season reminded us of. Too long for some of us and so we lose heart, we lose hope, and miss it when it comes – the “light shining in the dark, a light the darkness could not overpower.”
We saw this in America in May 2020, the in-full-view manslaughter of George Floyd, he by no means a saint but certainly a nonentity. It took decades in coming, even centuries, and the common folk made ole mas, especially millions of the young the world over, reminding people that racism is a sin crying out to the highest heavens for justice. Did we hear the angels rejoicing?
But that is not all. A pope, Francis by name, got into the ole mas’ business too by calling for a radical inversion of power and the conventional way of doing business. He called a Synod like no other, with many powerbrokers, ‘jumbies’ and ‘devils’, trying to undo the initiative. But they cannot stop God’s J’ouvert. It has begun.
The Synod speaks to all powerbrokers in the Church. Not only the bishops – we like to target them. But priests and laity too – the so called ‘high-priests’ and ‘high-priestesses’ in the parish who keep ministries locked tight like Fort Knox not wanting others to come in, not wanting change and ecclesiological evolution.
The Synod is an opportunity to let the Christmas lowly in and hear their stories – the poor and the working poor; the LGBTQIA+ group; the separated, divorced and remarried; those abused by the Church in various ways; the unchurched – our majority; migrants and refugees; the disabled; the “spiritual but not religious” and those of other faiths or none.
We need to hear too from that ever-expanding, non-churchgoing, professional Catholic elite who are perhaps only waiting to be challenged and included. This is real ole mas!
And yet ole mas is not as disordered as it looks. It has its own internal structure and ordering. It challenges us and makes us see our duplicity thereby carrying with it the hope of betterment.
Let us get involved in this holy ecclesial ole mas. You and I have a role to play in God’s J’ouvert.