The Year 2015 is about to pass off into history. It has been a year that saw humanity drawing closer together in solidarity in the wake of terrible acts of mindless terrorism and violence perpetrated in different parts of the world, driving thousands out of their homes and homelands. Calamities such as the earthquake in Nepal and the devastating flood that engulfed the city of Chennai and the adjoining districts for days have left scars on large segments of the population. It is in the aftermath of all this that we are about to celebrate Christmas which may apparently seem quite out of context for many. However, on a deeper look at what the first Christmas was for Mary and Joseph, we realize that Christmas has a message for every man and woman in every clime or circumstance. And the message comes through the angels: “I proclaim you a message of great joy for all the people. Today a Savior has been born to you…you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger” (Luke 2:11-12). God has entered humanity in its history and in its consciousness. Christmas is not just a mythical story that has no basis in history. Rather it is the historical entry of God as man into the world at a definite time and place. “The Word became flesh; he pitched his tent among us and we have seen his glory” (John 1: 14).
Christmas is the climax of the love story of God who desired with all his heart that man/woman be one with him. As Pope Francis reiterates about the Christmas event: “It is the tenderness of God who looks upon us with eyes full of love and who accepts our poverty; a God who is in love with our smallness.” Beginning his life in the manger and ending it on the cross, Jesus embraces the entire gamut of a human person’s life in its poverty, simplicity and sinfulness. Christmas then is a time to allow ourselves to be loved by God more than about our loving him. Cardinal Avery Dulles from U.S. has some pregnant words that describe what Christmas is all about: “Christmas does not give us a ladder to climb out of the human condition, it gives us a drill to burrow into the heart of everything that is and thus to find it shimmering with divinity.” The good news of Christmas is not that God is going to sweep away as if by magic all troubles from our life that are more often caused by our greed and selfishness. But rather it tells of a God of love who is personally present in everything that happens anywhere and everywhere. We saw it in the refugee crisis that affected Europe that transformed the hearts of thousands in providing generous hospitality to strangers. We saw it in Nepal and Chennai when help came from far and near providing food and shelter to thousands bereft of their dear ones and home. Christmas invites us to look out for this God shimmering in the ordinariness of our life with its ups and downs.
A man was dying of cancer in his home. He needed to be helped by someone to rise or get out of bed by holding him tight as he had no strength left in his limbs. A couple of days before he died he was helped out by his wife. She had her arms tight all around him as she was laying him down to bed. He then turned to his four teenage children and said: “Kids, it could not be any better than this.” Well, ask yourself what it is in your life that is sparkling and shining and gleaming because of the presence of God. Even the worst of situations can offer hope when God’s presence is recognized in it. There is nothing in human life, no crime or sin or calamity that should make someone despair or give up hope. Look for that hidden loving presence and the joy and peace of Christmas will ever shine on your face.
sage for Christmas 2015