by Sr. Esme da Cunha
The word ‘Christmas’ evokes all kinds of images: cribs, decorations, Christmas cards, gifts, sweets, Midnight mass, Carol-singing …
We could call all these the crust. But what or where is the real heart of Christmas? And what is Christmas really about?
How did it feel … that first Christmas Day, away in Bethlehem?
A virgin-birth!…with an incredulous Joseph looking on!
Mary, wonder-struck at the fulfillment of the Angel’s message!
The hustle and bustle of the inns, the crowd of travelers …
The warm smells of that poor stable with its dumb animals, curious yet indifferent!
Then come some shepherds saying they had seen angels …
Some compassionate neighbours step in with food and clothing for the holy family…
It must have been so hard for Mary and Joseph too to believe in the divinity of that helpless new-born babe, who looked so ordinary, so defenseless; to see in Him the Promised Saviour of humankind, the Son of God!
How equally baffling for the angelic hosts to behold the Incarnate God – God made man!
We are the recipients of this awesome mystery! Let not any of our outward activities rob us of the essence of what Christmas is really about. God enters into our human history, in human form, to redeem humanity from its fallen nature.
Christmas is not an event; It is the Event which clinches our history and gives it a new turn heavenward. We can never fully grasp the totality of its significance or gauge its hidden mystery.
The Incarnation makes us fall on our knees in humble and grateful adoration. The infinite God in finite form, eternity made mortal, the Divine assuming the creatureliness of His creatures …
God enters into our history never to depart from it. He remains “Emmanuel” – God with us, until the end of time, until time reaches its destiny and is swallowed up into eternity. Christmas is God with us in a tangible form, in an incomprehensible way. A God who deigns to live in the hearts of each one of us to the extent that there is no more room in our inn! A humble God, who does not force Himself on any of us, but One who fills each docile heart with an inexplicable peace!
The Prince of Peace has come into our world to dispel its darkness, to warm its frigidity, to fill its emptiness, to free it from the clutches of evil.
May we experience this God of Peace as our personal Saviour! This Emmanuel – God with us – the Champion we choose to follow along the path that leads to salvation!
In a world, broken by violence, torn apart by divisions, weighed down by sufferings of every kind, we find in Him the God we long for, the God in whom alone is found lasting peace and joy!
A look around – and we do not see much of this, except for the glittering tinsels of our commercial world for a month or so before the feast. We hear the strains of Christmas carols in our churches. There is the excitement of children, but even this is so highly commercialized. The old, jolly Santa Claus is more attractive than that forlorn baby Jesus!
Talk about Peace, but the newspapers tell a totally different story. Violence and strife! Our world is destroying itself with its own technical genius.
2000 years! And it seems as if Christ has made no dent at all in our world. Yet He has come and come to stay! But where is He hiding in all the mess we have made? Where is He in the sordidness we live in? Has His Coming made any difference in the lives of humankind?
Yet He still remains the Lord of History. All of it is in His hands. Like leaven in the dough He makes all things new and brings them to fruition. Our individual lives are just too short-sighted to see the sweep of the centuries and the difference Christ’s coming makes. The seed of Faith has been planted in the human heart. Like a magnet He draws all things to Himself, in whom alone is Life and Life in abundance. Nothing will ever be the same again. Our puny lives do not perceive the revolution He has brought about. In His time, in His way … It requires the eyes of faith and the patience of God to ‘see’ Him in the here and now.
So Christmas is here to stay – 365 days a year! – until the end of time!
Let our hearts join with the angelic choirs and sing in the name of all humankind. With reverent strains and faith-filled wonder, we bow before this Blessed Mystery:
Joy to the World, The Lord has come.
Let Earth receive her King!
Let every heart prepare Him room
And Heaven and Nature sing!