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From Samson’s roar to the quiet power of Christmas

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Gerard Gayou - published on 12/10/23

Pilgrims to the Manger: Why didn't Jesus fight back against his betrayer as Samson did?
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“An angel of the Lord appeared to the woman,” the scripture reads, telling her that “you will conceive and bear a son.” No, these quotations do not come from the Gospels. They come instead from the Book of Judges, when an angel announces to a barren woman her miraculous conception of Samson, a great warrior of Israel and man among men.  

These Old Testament chapters brim with feats of Samson’s strength. God sent to the Israelites a man who tore a lion apart with his bare hands and killed a thousand men with the jawbone of an ass. With the Lord’s blessing, no enemy could harm him. 

Yet Samson was tricked, divulging to Delilah the secret condition of his strength. She cut off his hair, and his enemies gouged out his eyes before imprisoning him. He dies when, his hair having grown back, he collapses on himself a Philistine temple packed with his enemies. 

In so many ways, Samson anticipates Christ: a savior of Israel announced by an angel who is betrayed by one he loved. Yet while Samson killed his enemies, Jesus was killed for their sake.  

The distinction raises an urgent question: Why doesn’t Jesus manifest His power like Samson? Why doesn’t He fight back on Good Friday? Friedrich Nietzsche disputed Christianity on similar grounds. He resented humility and meekness. For him, power was raw, dominant, and unmistakable. 

That message of self-assertion resonates among men today. Our self-worth is on our own shoulders, and we know not where to find our rest.  

Now Samson’s strength was a Godly strength. But he too needed a savior. I imagine Samson’s massive figure kneeling before a crèche, viewing the Child Who would take his yoke and put it on his own shoulders. “Will you let me die for you, o man among men?”  

With Christmas comes a quiet power. We turn from Samson’s defiant roar to the coo of a Child who deals death its decisive blow. 

~

[The Aleteia community is joining the journey of an Old Testament pilgrim each day this Advent, as they lead us to the Christ Child in this holy season. Find the daily reflections here.]

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