Thursday, December 02, 2010

Advent,preparing for the coming of Jesus

Birth of Christ – a lesson in humility

We are again in the season of Advent, preparing to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Many of us like the Christians all over the world may have great plans to celebrate this auspicious day. To many of it is the most important feast in the year. To many it is just another of the man Jesus who was born 2000 years ago but to us Christians it is much more than a birthday anniversary. It is the birth of God into our hearts and lives. How do we prepare to receive Jesus who continually is born into our lives??

Many of us elaborately decorate our homes, light up Christmas trees and put up the crib. Some of us buy new furniture and new clothes for ourselves and our children. We rush to churches in the middle of the night to pray and receive Him in Holy Communion. We shake hands and hug one another wishing “Merry Christmas”. We host elaborate dinners and parties. There is so much joy and happiness in the air filled with a mood of celebration. We do all these to welcome a God who was born in a stable among poor shepherds and their sheep. Yes, God came to the world in the most humble manner to share his life with the poor. That is the greatest message to us – be humble.

The greatest virtue that God revealed to us by the birth of his son is humility. His birth into the world in an environment of extreme poverty was an example of his humility which we are commemorating this Christmas. Each one us has some degree of arrogance, pride and egoism in us, which are the sins that we must get rid from our lives during this Christmas to attain the peace that Christ promised.

As we go through this period of Advent it may be pertinent to ask ourselves how humble are we in our dealings with our fellow men? If Christ was a symbol of humility and forgiveness what are we?

The Church asks us to go for confession, a ritual that is meant to ask God forgiveness for all the bad we had done to others. It is indeed a wonderful practice to confess our sins and ask for forgiveness but from whom should we ask for forgiveness, God or those whom we had hurt?

Jesus was very clear from whom we must ask for forgiveness when he said, So then, if you are bringing your offering to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, go and be reconciled with your brother first, and then come back and present your offering”(Mathew 5:23-24).

We read these words very often but how many of us are willing to ask for forgiveness personally from those whom we have hurt? It is easy to say sorry to God whom we do not see, hear or feel but extremely difficult to say that personally to the one whom we have hurt as that needs the humility that Jesus expounded. How can we expect God to forgive us when we are not willing to personally ask forgiveness from those we hurt?

As we celebrate the birth of Jesus this Christmas it may be pertinent for us to reflect of its true meaning in our lives particularly in our relationship with those we encounter including fellow parishioners. Over the last year or so in our own parish there had been so much politicking going on that radiates a lot of ill feelings and hatred. Infighting, acts of revenge and jealousy continue to prevail in our lives outside and inside the Church. Even our priests whom we thought would be on the side of justice fail us by getting involved in the politics of the people. We are saddened and beginning to despair, but something deep in us says that we should not let these setbacks stop us from continuing with our good works towards fellow men.

Let us put all these behind us and like Jesus, humble ourselves to ask forgiveness from those we have hurt and sincerely forgive those who have hurt us. Celebrating Christmas is meaningless if we continue to harbor ill-feelings against those who have hurt us. As Jesus said let’s leave our offering before the altar, go and be reconciled with our brother first, and then go back and present our offering.

At the same time let us share the blessings He had bestowed upon us, however little that may be, with someone who are in dire need of those blessings. We may not have much wealth and money to share but a little of the little we have is all that matters as Mother Teresa put it, “It is not the great things that matter but the little things done with great love that really matters”. Our time and energy are other possessions that we can share with those who are down and out.

As we prepare ourselves to welcome Jesus into our homes and hearts this Christmas, let us look around to see how we can become more Christ-like in our own lives, in our family, our office, our neighborhood and in our own BEC and parish.

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