Food for Thought: Christmas in 'Selfie' Culture

Fr Paul Melwyn D'Souza

Dec 24: A “word” has incredible power in our lives. When perfectly timed, a word lifts us up, makes us laugh, brings joy and comfort. A word when misdirected breaks us down, creates pain and insecurity. Words come and they stay. In the exponential advancement in communication technology some words have become more of usage and popular. In the year 1985 the most popular word was “Internet.” In 1997 it was “google.” In 2006 “Tweeter [tweet] was word of the year. In 2013, the word “selfie” made it into the official Oxford dictionary. In fact, “selfie” was the “word of the year 2013.”

We live in the culture of “selfie”. A selfie is a self-portrait which is then posted over the Internet or on social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Whatsapp and other technology media. These sites reveal that clicking photos of ourselves has become increasingly popular. We can instantly show the world what we are doing, what we are cooking, eating, and wearing. There are many who do that on a constant rate and speed. We want the world really see us. In reality one is trying to say: this is what I look like; this is what I do; this is my identity. Our actions and decision are made on the basis how they will be viewed and perceived by the other. It is as if technology trains us to say daily, “Look at my face! I’m here! I’m important! I really matter. At its root, selfie is nothing new. Thanks to media and technology now we have the means of broadcasting what has been a fundamental human desire: to be loved and paid attention to. The selfie is simply the digital version of what we desire.

If God took a selfie of Himself how would it look like? Unlike human “selfies” that get beamed up to satellites in the heavens, God’s “selfie” comes down from the heavens. This heavenly “selfie” is transported not through some electronic devise, but rather through the flesh and blood of a baby born in a Bethlehem manger. This then is the mystery of Christmas: God’s selfless selfie comes in the form a human child, born on this earth, revealing to us a down to earth God who is with us in the muck of the stable as much as in the exhilaration of heavenly worship. He is Jesus, Immanuel God with us.

In the mystery of Christmas Jesus the Word became human being and lived among us (Jn 1: 14). He is the image of the invisible God (Col.1:15). He reflects the brightness of God’s glory and is the exact likeness of God’s own being (Heb 1:3). God did not take His selfie associated with famous people, exotic places and stunning backgrounds. He did it in the darkness of night to bring Light. He did in the atmosphere of death to bring Life. He did it in the greatest poverty, hunger, thirst, heat and cold, insults and offences to bring redemption and salvation.

His searching for shelter was indeed a way of the Cross. He came into his own – but his own people did not receive him. Bethlehem became a Mount Olives where Jesus the Lord and in a special way Mary and Joseph as well suffered an agony. The stable of Bethlehem became Golgotha where Jesus felt the wood of the Cross. In the incarnation began also His passion by way of refusal of Messiah in Bethlehem, by way of prophesy of Simeon and the flight to escape Herod’s fury to Egypt.

Rulers like Herod wanted the death of Jesus when He was just an infant. Now rulers and authorities are seriously pondering to prevent the very celebration of Christmas on 25 December. Jesus the selfless selfie of God is worthy of praise, adoration and celebration. Let this Christmas 2014 again gives us an opportunity to fathom God’s love in Jesus who as God’s perfect image says, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” Come to me ‘I am the bread of life’ and I will give rest and peace. How oft we get caught up in all crazy stuff during Christmas. Let us make little time amidst Christmas bazaar to ponder the mystery of Christmas and say “We adore you Jesus, Come and dwell in our hearts and homes”.

How beautiful indeed it is when the season of spiritual happiness does not take over by superficial celebration. How joyous it is when love, service, respect are not taken over by consumption, corruption and hatred. Jesus the Lord, Ruler of rulers bless and enlightened law makers with wisdom to create a good governance to begin with and then to dedicate a day to remember it.


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Comment on this article

  • Jane Furtado, Kallianpur/Mumbai

    Sun, Dec 28 2014

    Meaningful article.Spreading the real meaning of Christmas in today's materialistic living.

    DisAgree Agree Reply Report Abuse Agree [2]

  • Hilda vas., cownalla.

    Fri, Dec 26 2014

    Congratulation.very very inspirational artical.

    DisAgree [1] Agree [1] Reply Report Abuse Agree [4]

  • Vincy, Pamboor

    Fri, Dec 26 2014

    Rev. Fr. Melwyn it is an article pregnant with spiritual insights. Thank you.

    DisAgree Agree [1] Reply Report Abuse Agree [3]

  • Fr. Joachim D'Souza, Capuchin, Mogarnad/ Bangalore

    Thu, Dec 25 2014

    Thanks Dear Fr. Paul Melwyn for the beautiful message on this beautiful season of christmas

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  • John Castelino, Moodbidri/Kuwait

    Thu, Dec 25 2014

    Many thanks to Fr Paul for bringing out meaning of 'the Word'. Indeed, we Catholics are blessed with priests and other faithful who break this word in a meaningful way to us and make it as a spiritual feed. May baby Jesus bless us all when we reflect Him in our daily lives.
    Wishing one and all a happy Christmas.

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  • Dr. Edward Nazareth, Mangalore

    Thu, Dec 25 2014

    Thanks Rev Fr Melwyn for the apt message..

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  • Declan, Mumbai

    Thu, Dec 25 2014

    Inspiring words indeed Fr.Paul.

    Wish you a Merry Christmas !

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  • Bro. Victor Crasta, OFM Cap., Mangalore/Bidar

    Thu, Dec 25 2014

    Congrats Fr. Melwyn for the beautiful inspiration and insight. Have a merry Christmas. See you soon. Good luck

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  • Arjun, India

    Thu, Dec 25 2014

    Kingdom of Lord is within you, we all need to continue the spiritual journey independently, selfless service will always win over short selfies. One can rob, one can steal, one can't take our faith and belief that we are all but creation of one God. No land or ruler can steal the spirit of Christmas and teachings of the lord. Where do these mortal political folks and those who want to create trouble stand in front of teachings of Christ! Just ignore them. Merry Christmas to you all.

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  • A.S.Mathew, U.S.A.

    Wed, Dec 24 2014

    Very interesting article.

    If everybody would comprehend the strength of the "words we speak" many problems of the world would have been averted on the one hand, happiness could have been created on the other hand.

    Please read the two sentences of the first paragraph several times and put them into action in our daily lives.

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