06 Editorial - Certainty of Christmas

posted Dec 11, 2018, 9:16 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Dec 13, 2018, 10:40 PM ]

Certainty of Christmas

Fr. Anthony Charanghat

This Christmas, we proclaim the certainty of the coming of Christ amidst a deep sense of uncertainty in the state of the world. There have been concerns about the current instability in economic prospects, the ineffectiveness of political structures, an increasing fragmentation of the unity of peoples, hazards of climate change and the scandal of priests and nuns who have fallen from grace owing to a tepid spirituality. Yet we confidently announce the certainty of the good tidings of Christmas, ‘Christ has come, Christ is coming, Christ will come.’

Uncertainty in the midst of much prosperity which few have access to, is a sign of our trust being in the wrong things. It tells us that our values are in the wrong place. Political power, economic progress, advances in technology that has intervened with God’s creation and communication marvels have not resulted in the reign of peace, justice for all and harmony among peoples.

Yet it is in these anxieties and fears, that we must recognise the moment of ‘Kyrios–the Lord’, which is what Christmas is all about. Here we come to a deeper centre, to Bethlehem, to Him who shows us the foundations on which we must build, the priorities we must seek. Christ is the Lord-The Alpha and Omega and the Centre. The Alpha-the beginning, the Omega-the end–and always centre of our life.

The eternal dimension of Christ’s birth celebrates sacramentally every moment He comes into our hearts as the Saviour, made possible by His historical coming more than two thousand years ago. The end of 2018 may turn out to be one less predictable and certain, due to new avatars of terrorism that create fear and division by the mindless killing of innocent human and animal lives and destruction of their habitats. But the certainty of peace that Christmas augurs, brings us a new awakening to prepare for the final welcoming of Christ who comes in glory to calm the storms of life.

Our modern world is quick to dismiss Jesus’ virgin birth in the small town of Bethlehem as a myth. It is beyond their comprehension that the host of angels should choose to announce the birth of the promised Messiah to a bunch of confused and ignorant shepherds. Given their lack of communication skills, they would be incapable of delivering such astounding news--that God had come to dwell with humankind to save us, with any telling impact.

Our celebration of Christmas as God’s decisive action to send His Son to take on human flesh to redeem us, looks like God’s apparent mistake, a plan that has gone awry. Yet this is no mistake, but the greatest plan there ever could be. Because, in this child we see the way God calls us to relationship with Him, to lives of purpose and to being witnesses that God is with us. Not only is the manger an invitation to life, but of life abundant, full and free.

In the manger this Christmas, we are empowered to have a new perspective to see something completely different from all our human strivings for freedom. It is amongst those on the edge, those ignored, persecuted and sinners that we have most clearly seen the glory of God, a glory that makes it possible to chase away the fear of terror, the power of death, the economies of despair and to have courage to repent and the awareness to reject fake news that divides.

Syrian martyrs have found strength to witness to faith in the face of decapitation and torture; the lonely and the elderly sick from advanced nations have discovered new hope to battle against odds in humanitarian outreaches; even in India, survivors of human trafficking oppressed by a culture of silence, have begun to find their voices to raise protests. We are also experiencing a groundswell of rumblings against the man-made growing carbon footprint.

Liberation begins with the risky birth of God in the form of a baby of a teenage mother, in a poor family, in a war-torn country ruled by an infant slaughtering psychopath. Jesus’ life continues mostly in obscurity, ends in betrayal, abandonment and humiliating execution, but this child offers the seed of hope for the flowering of enduring Peace. He is power seen in humility, and He offers freedom expressed in loving service. There is no power in the universe stronger than God’s love and it is directed towards the liberation of human beings.

Those in power love to slavishly cling on to it. The self-emptying, helpless, stable-born baby who is God has brought and continues to bring more freedom than all powerful leaders. In Mary, we see the right response to Christmas when we accept the invitation of God to use the gift of freedom in generous self-giving. It may involve suffering and self-denial, but above it all is a life of fulfilling freedom. The nature of God who has all power, and from whom all power comes, is to lay it aside for love’s sake and without fear, force or manipulation to offer true freedom for every human being.

The certainty of Christmas manifests this truth of freedom in its most complete form, Love in its purest aspect, the true Light of freedom all wrapped up in the Baby in Bethlehem. He unravels God’s plan to free us through the power of the Light of His Truth and Love. It is the truth that dispels the darkness of sin and the Saving Love that calms the turbulence of human relationships and the tremors of natural disasters. This is the reality of Christmas challenging us to live to the full, dying to the self as the centre of the world. A radical loss of self-centeredness and a transformation of our lives—the real hope of Christmas for a world of genuine Justice, Peace and Love.