CHRISTMAS, THE NATIVITY OF JESUS Dec 25, 2008

Readings: Isaiah 9:1-6 Titus 2:11-14 Luke 2:1-14
The feast of Christmas is a special feast for us. It is the day when we celebrate the birth of Jesus who came into the world for our sake. He was born in utter poverty and destitution yet in obedience to God that he may establish God’s kingdom on earth. Realistically speaking can we see something more defenseless than a little baby? It is totally dependent on others for every need and is completely vulnerable. God chooses to come to us as a helpless infant and that too born in humblest of all circumstances. Bur why did God do such a thing? He did it because he loves us and he wants to share himself with us. He does not want merely to exist alongside us but wants to be a part of everything that we are. Hence on this day God became one of us, to love each one of us intimately, passionately and without any limit.
Christmas is a feast of joy, love and peace. It is a feast of joy to celebrate the greatest moment in history. On this day we meet each other and greet each other with the festal wishes, exchange cards and sweets. We share with each other this happy moment that even enemies speak to each other and those who are fighting will call it a day of truce. They cannot fight on a Christmas day for sure. They will continue the next day. It is a joy of love when God showed his love for us by sending his own beloved son who will continue to live with us forever. This is the ultimate form of God’s love. It is a day of peace and this is what was proclaimed by the angels at birth of Jesus: peace to those of good will. Jesus the God of peace will give his peace for us and this peace will last forever.
Christmas is the birthday of Jesus and we share it too since we are reborn as the children of God through Jesus on this day. St John tells us that all those who received him and believed in his name, he gave the power to be the children of God. This is the news of great joy and as the first reading of today tells us that a great light has appeared and a child is born to us, a son is given to us that we may become the children of God. He will uphold justice and righteousness forever. This light has come in the lives of people for the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. Hence the Angels could joyfully announce to all “Glory to God in the highest and peace to those of good will.” In the second reading St Paul tells us that the grace of God has appeared bringing salvation to all people. He, Jesus gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and might purify us to make us the real people of God.
The Gospel of today gives us the narrative about the birth of Jesus. He was born in Bethlehem in a manger or a cave because there was no room for them in the inn. The creator of the universe could not find a place for his own son on earth. His warmth was from the animals; his visitors were the shepherds, the illiterate the reject of the society who every one looked at with scant respect. Later it was the foreigners, pagans who came to visit and offer him the gifts fit for the king and a priest. The angels become the messengers. There was no grandeur, no pomp or salute of guns for the arrival of a king. Instead there is the total silence and quietness at his arrival. There was no room for them in the inn and hence Mary keeps him in the cave: she wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in the manger. In the inns of Bethlehem there was no place for him. They were all occupied. They choose to reject, the saviour of the world though unknowingly. Yet the whole atmosphere is suffused with joy, the joy of the angels and of the shepherds as they hasten to Bethlehem to find the new-born child. Joy is a theme which goes right through Luke’s gospel. It is one of the characteristics of the true Christian.
When baby Jesus first came into the world about two thousand years ago, His arrival was in fulfillment of the promises of God. For many years, God’s chosen people had been unstable. Sometimes they were faithful to God. To fulfill His promise, God sent into the world the Redeemer, the One who had been ‘Sought Out’ for years and years. The Redeemer was Jesus! Through the atoning sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ, we were restored in the eyes of God as a Holy People. The birth of Jesus is a reminder that God has not forgotten us. It is a reminder of how much God loves us. It is a reminder that God has reached down to us so we in turn may reach up to Him with praises and glory in thanksgiving for our salvation. Indeed, we have not been forsaken by God.
By his birth in this world of darkness and confusion, the God who became man shows us his will to assume in himself the entire humanity to raise it up and integrate it into his loving plan. Today’s Gospel very carefully sets the tone both for the personal lifestyle of Jesus and of the purpose for which he has come, to share his peace love and joy. Like the shepherds who went with haste and shared the good news, we as Christians are also called to go with haste and share the good news. As lay Christians, we are entrusted by God with the apostolate by virtue of our Baptism and Confirmation, as a right and duty, individually or grouped in associations, to work so that the Divine message of salvation may be known and accepted by all men throughout the earth. This duty is even more pressing when it is only through us as individual persons that some may hear the Gospel and know Christ.
What is the spirit of Christmas for us? It is to make room for all who are sad, empty in their lives. It was said that there was a short Christmas play put up by fourth grade students. There was a boy in the play who was bigger yet kind at heart and wanted to be shepherd and carry the sheep on his shoulder; but the teacher made him inn keeper to drive out Mary and Joseph. As the play went on Joseph pleaded the inn keeper loudly told them there is no room and they must leave. Then Mary started crying and slowly the boy turned and said softly look there is no room here in the inn but you can take my room and have all the privacy you need. True the play went off the track but the showed the spirit of Christmas that there is room for every one if we choose to give it. The poor lame blind lepers and all will find a room in the babe of Bethlehem. The presence of Jesus gave room for everyone. This is because she wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in the manger so that room is found for all.

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