On 25th December we celebrate the Joyful Feast of Christmas, Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Christmas is not just an anniversary of the birth of Lord Jesus Christ, but the celebration of a mystery. As St. Augustine explains, in the celebration of a mystery, “not only is the event commemorated, but we do so in a way that its significance for us is understood and received devoutly”.
St. Leo the Great highlighted the mystical significance of the Sacrament of Nativity of Christ saying, “Just as we have been crucified with him in his passion, been raised with him in his resurrection…. so too have we been born along with him in his Nativity”.
St. John begins the Prologue of his Gospel with the words: “In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God, and the Word was God… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we have seen his glory, the glory of the only Son coming from the Father.” (Jn. 1: 1 + 14)
To the Angels who announced the good news of the birth of the Divine Saviour through her, the Virgin Mary asked “How shall this be, since I have no husband?” And the angel said to her “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you, therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God” (Lk. 1: 34 -35). When the Virgin Mary said her fiat (‘let it be done’) she conceived the Son of God. St. Augustine tells us that “Mary conceived Christ first in her heart and then in her body.”
Incarnation is indeed a mystery of God’s love, “for God so loved the world that he sent his only Son into this world so that whoever believes in him may not perish, but have eternal life” (Jn. 3:16). Living in a highly materialistic and consumerist society where Christmas is widely commercialized, it is important to concentrate more on the mystery of Christmas than on mere celebration of the anniversary of the Birth of Jesus. We need to understand and receive devoutly the true significance of this great event and not be distracted with external material celebrations.
At the birth of Jesus, an angel of the Lord from heaven announced the good news to the Shepherds in Bethlehem. “Behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will come to all the people, for to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord” (Lk. 2: 10-11). And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased” (Lk. 2:13).
Lord Jesus is the Prince of Peace. How much does the world stand in need of peace today! Indeed we need peace. The world needs peace. We need to make concerted efforts to build a society where peace and harmony, justice and freedom, respect and tolerance are its pillars. Let us make this world a better place to live.
I wish all of you a Blessed Christmas and pray that the Peace and Joy of the Divine Saviour will abide with you throughout the New Year 2018.