Annually Christmas revolves round in the liturgical calendar as it keeps revisiting us just like many other events in our life cycle. difference is that; it is a historical event that changed the face of the whole world, as no other cyclical event has done. A famous author wrote: “Christ was born in the first century, yet he belongs to all centuries. He was born a Jew, yet He belongs to all races! He was born in Bethlehem, yet He belongs to all countries”! This is a central mystery in the course of history; but unfortunately Christmas is being denuded from what it really means. Today, the world with so much secularized consumerist affinity; the expectations for Christmas differ dramatically from that of a genuine ‘believer’. The secularized culture seeks vacations, gifts, decorations, parties and a time to exit from the hectic daily rush.
What most people forget is that all these external preparations are to welcome the Son of God who became “flesh like us”. If this historical memory is stripped off from the festivity, what do we celebrate? A believer however, has other deeper wishes and expectations to celebrate. Though the needs of the consumer may be important, for the believer they are never cutthroat priorities. For the believers Christmas is a time of hope and joy that celebrates reconciliation between “God – Man”, through the Son of God. Christmas is preceded by Advent, a period of waiting, listening and expecting for the bigger event (Christmas) to take place. Advent represents the Old Testament era when the people of Israel awaited patiently for the coming of the Messiah to bring light and freedom to the world.
Like wise today, Advent ought to be given a spiritual meaning; a period when we can get rid of slavery of routine sinful, undesirable habits like hypocrisy and greed that cause spiritual darkness and death. In so doing at Christmas, we can enjoy the freedom, liberty, peace and joy through the salvation brought forth by Jesus the Saviour of the world. Since Christmas presupposes ‘new life’ in Jesus, Christians have a sole duty of radiating the splendor and so light up the world around them. Thus illuminating the darkness of the world today! For a believer, Christmas is a season of reviving ones hope and joy in the Child Jesus who came to take away our shame by endowing us the grace to become sons/daughters of God. St. Paul says: “God destined us to be his adopted children through Jesus Christ because of his love” (Eph 1: 5). The Son of Mary born in Bethlehem gives meaning to our life, and hence to our Christmas celebrations.
If our expectations are anchored on the mystery of salvation all our celebrations, be they internal or external acquire a deep meaning and opening of new horizons in our life; a horizon that gives hope with a sense of therapeutic peace. The mystery of incarnation has a universal implication for the entire humanity. Again St. Paul says “…as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Eph 1:10). Son of God came to the world to unite all things and all humanity. Hence the Christmas message goes beyond boarders of the Church to all generations in all conditions of life. Christmas is a season of hope especially to those who feel belittled, weak and crushed by the odds of life and unbearably painful situations. year 2013 is marred with violence, war, destruction and hatred in all corners of the globe specially our continent Africa and the Middle East. “Peace on earth to those on whom God’s favour rests” (Luke 2:14) has a greater relevance to these situations irrespective of famine, oppression, migration, accidents, violence whatever the situation, culture and belief.
In Jesus humanity is offered a chance to become “a new creation”. Christ is the reason of our hope. Saint Paul tells us: “The old has passed away, behold, the new has come!” (2 Cor.5:17). T he word of God also says everything works unto good for all those who trust in God. We can get a meaning out of all the negative situations. We may be victims or witnesses to these negative experiences and so ask: Is God calling me to totally depend on him? Is He calling me to be humble, compassionate towards others, give alms, bring hope, and intercede? Ask and discern! he September 11 attacks with a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks launched by al-Qaeda upon the United States in 2001 found us in Medjugorje at the Bosnian Queen of Peace shrine with several American pilgrims aboard about nine planes. This American event shook the universe even the pilgrims were afraid that America might retaliate with extraordinary violence.
To my surprise a group of pilgrims approached me after exchanging greetings made a request: “Sr. kindly get a priest to confess us. We need to be free and leave our sins behind. We Americans were proud and thought we have the ability to control everything and felt secure but God is telling us something else, we need more spiritual exercises…” As good Christians, we should develop the ‘eye of faith’ for guidance at all times. Wishing you a Joyful Christmas and Peace-filled New Year 2014!