JesusÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ Christmas (Birthday): Another year has passed and Christmas is once again at the door. As always, it will be celebrated differently among different people. Some lured by the market Ã¢â‚¬ËœbonanzaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, will take it just as a commercial opportunity. Some will celebrate by over drinking and merry making, while others afflicted by extreme poverty and misery, will most probably go to bed hungry even on Christmas night! Sr Helen Kasaka of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi writes.
How many of us will truly delight in the remembrance of that blissful moment in human history when God, in His first Christmas over 2000 years ago, became Emmanuel, God with us? Trying to make our Christmas memorable by just exchanging expensive presents or by gorging on rich foods and saturating ourselves with alcohol, sounds blasphemous!
Indeed, allowing our material destitution to deprive ourselves with the true meaning and richness of Christmas is like missing the most exhilarating and personal appointment we can ever have with our God and Saviour.
The focus of this thought is on the birth of Christ, our Saviour. It is a time to rejoice and sing that our God has come to remain with us, the Lord who says, ” come to me all you who labour and are over-burdened and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11: 28).
As we plan how we will share our gifts at Christmas, let us reflect on the true meaning of Christmas. “Blessed Edmund Bojanowsk, founder of the Little Servants of Mary Immaculate Sisters” gave to children and the poor because Jesus calls us to give His birthday presents to those in need. Let us not give into the oppressive influences listed above … we are called to be Christ to the world! If we the Body of Christ share GodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s gifts, the needy will be a part of His birthday party”.
“St. Luke makes a clear connection between the birth and death of Christ when he refers to SimeonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s prophesy that MaryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s soul would later be pierced by a sword (Luke 2: 34-35) and just has His mother
Mary was to hold the child in her arms on that first Christmas day, so Mary would hold the dead body of her son as he would be taken down from the cross. Just as Mary was the womb in which the God Ã¢â‚¬â€œchild was to begin human existence, so the tomb was to hold our God-adult some thirty-three or more years later”. Bethlehem and Calvary must be seen together if we are not to lose the fuller sense of what the joy of Christmas is all about.
This may be seen as twisted expression of joy but, in fact, it highlights the kind of joy that we are celebrating at Christmas. It is not the joy of empty passing pleasure but the joy that our God has come to save us and has saved us for sin. We rejoice that Christ has died for us so that we might be reconciled with God and with one another despite our sinfulness.
Christ has come then not just as a helpless child, but as our “Saviour” to save us from the forces of evil and sin in ourselves and in our world. When we look around our world today, we are in no doubt about the fact that there is much that poses an obstacle to the love of God.
There is warfare, ethnic cleansing, widespread poverty, bitterness, hatred, inhuman cruelty, etc., all of which are so many expressions of evil. This evil is real and it takes many forms.
It is for this reason that this paper also carries some reflection on social and cultural sources. These are phenomena that need to be properly understood and confronted with the saving power of Christ.
They are forms of human oppression that are self Ã¢â‚¬â€œinflicted by our society and there is a critical need to focus on the economic crisis. They can cripple human development unless named for what they really are despite their complexity. While Jesus himself was very critical of all forms of social oppression, it is significant he was even more critical of oppressive religious structures, which he condemned in no uncertain terms.
The joy of Christmas must be experienced in a realistic way that recognises the continued presence of selfishness and evil in our midst. Indeed, it is precisely because of our felt need for Christ in our personal lives and in our struggle for just social structures that we rejoice in the coming of our Lord and saviour. We rejoice that we are not alone in our struggle. God is with us in our joys and sufferings. As we worship the newborn child in the manger, we say with the Shepherds, ” Glory to God in the highest, and peace to people of good will” (Luke 2:14).
Finally, Christmas is a time when we need to think more about the needs of our fellow men and women, to share our gifts (time, talents, and treasure) to those in dire need of “daily bread” and love.
It is a time for bringing comfort, joy and peace to others. It is a time for breaking down conflict in our homes, in our workplaces, and in our country. It is a time for forgiveness and reconciliation. It is a time
when we challenge our selfishness and grow in the joy of giving. It is a time for thanking God for the gift of our faith. This is the true meaning of Christmas.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¦”Whenever you did this for one of the least important of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matt 25:40).
May Hope never be extinguished in our hearts!
Merry Christmas and a blessed New year 2012