Dec 24, 2010
'Joy to the world the Lord has come, let all the earth receive the king and heaven and nature sing…' this is the spirit of Christmas. A season filled with the atmosphere of joy and love over the birth of Jesus the Saviour of the world who will liberate the people from bondage of every kind and show a path to live life based on spirituality and goodness.
The Saviour decides to come because he feels a need, a need to show the people how to lead a life not based on the blind competition to acquire the material prosperity but to acquire the divinity to lead a happy life. Jesus, God and Man, takes His incarnation not in the glory but in the absence of grandeur.
St Ignatius of Loyola, the founder father of the Society of Jesus, in his famous book, 'The Spiritual Exercises,' says that the Triune Gods sat together to contemplate the happenings of the world and what they saw in the world made them sad because the people of the world had turned evil and the evil practices were at their maximum. They then decided that one of them would have to incarnate in the form of human and go down the world and teach them the way of living. Jesus, the second person of the Trinity then incarnates as human, born of Immaculate Conception through an earthly mother Mary. Mary thus became the perfect instrument of the saving plans of God.
Though betrothed to Joseph, she agreed to the message given by Gabriel angel of conceiving Jesus and not thinking about the social disgrace which otherwise a woman had to go through when pregnant outside marriage. She thus becomes a model for the entire generations of the holy motherhood.
Well, the point is that there is no time which is not appropriate for the birth of Jesus. The birth of the baby Jesus can happen at any given time, when a person starts to say what Jesus would do in this particular situation. Today the world seems even more evil making a perfect timing for the birth of Jesus. This is the time when each one should be reminded of Jesus being born in their hearts. Christmas should not be just about the Crib competition, carols and the Kuswar preparations at home to show the world how much one can afford for the feast. It’s also not just yearly renovation of the house.
It goes beyond these outer expressions of our faith. All should be able to prepare a spiritual fertile ground to receive the baby Jesus in our hearts, which many, if not all, miss. For some Christmas may be a spiritual experience of God’s saving hand just for the time being. It does not permeate their life throughout, failing then in giving any significant change in their life to understand this great mystery of Jesus coming in the midst of human world.
I always wonder what after this Christmas. Right from the commencement of the Christmas season, there is a change in the environment. People try to prepare in their own way to celebrate this feast. Some attend regular mass, some make it a point to help the needy by giving donations and some even go to the extent of giving up their bad habits. All in an attempt to make a spiritual ground in their hearts to receive Jesus.
In the past, I used to go for carol singing to each house in my village, one of the most exciting events during this great season of Christmas. My mom made sure that all the children go for the carols and feel the changed atmosphere in life. She also insisted that all the members come home for this great event. I remember my brothers coming home from the boarding school and in their own little way bringing Christmas gifts. The custom of exchanging Christmas gifts I practice even now. Last time during the Christmas get-together in the college I gave a small gift to my Christmas friend. As a child, I used to get a new dress for Christmas which I would be happily wearing at the vigil mass.
Today, the Christmas celebration has undergone a sea change. The Crib which used to be simpler has become an extraordinary one with all the modern equipment like water fountains, bigger stars and bigger budget for the celebration. The house-to-house carols have changed into meagre carols before the vigil mass with the latest band of the city. Shopping for Christmas is not limited to just one dress but different sets of new dresses adding to the confusion of what to wear for the festival!
If something has remained timeless all these years of my Christmas celebration, it is the message of Christmas which has changed but little. The sermons more or less have been the same with the change of expressions and orations depending on the personality of the priests. Jesus always comes for the poor (both spiritual poverty and actual material poverty) and the orphans and the people who are struggling to live their life. Jesus gives an assurance that the life after death belongs to all those who are considered underdogs of society because they are innocent at heart. Their life is not waste but it has true meaning and their suffering would one day change into happiness.
Christmas, if it makes one tired on December 26 and the following days with a lot of decorations to remove and worry about the budget next month, then it surely would have failed us in celebrating the birth of Jesus. The celebration must positively change our outlook of life, after having received the peace and joy which Christmas promises to each, irrespective of religion. The experience of increased joy and peace succeeding Christmas is the true gift of the beautiful festival.
Can one say, I believe in sun even when I don’t get to see it, I believe in God even when I don’t feel His presence at times. This is the gift of Christmas.
Merry Christmas to all and Happy New Year 2011.
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