Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas 2010 Reflections

Christmas 2010 – Humility and hope for a better future

The Christmas crib, a model of the people and animals present at the birth of Jesus Christ, used to impress us when we were young and it remains very vividly impressed in our minds even till today. At that tender age it was an image of joy, happiness and celebration on the occasion of the birth a divine infant.

Today we are much older, more mature and hopefully wiser. After experiencing the ups and downs in life, we begin to realize Christmas is more than an occasion tojust celebrate with feasts and merry-making, like we did as children, but one to reflect on our own attitude in a world ruled by greed, pride and prejudice.

Many of us may not have matured into such rightful thinking adults as we may have never been tested in life but it is time we did just that to realize that the birth of Jesus in a stable among poor shepherds and their flock represents not just joy and happiness but more importantly it is a symbol of humility which we all lack.

It is this lack of humility the cause of the many inter-personal problems that we face in our lives; in our family, offices, nation and the world that is torn apart by war and violence. It is this lack of humility that results in pride and arrogance and the attitudes, “I am always right” and “I am better than you” that has become prevalent among most of us.

In life we strive for success, wealth and power and in this pursuit humility is invariably a hindrance and the easiest way out for us to get it out of our lives. As we climb the ladder of success we forget the past, we forget those who lag behind although they were our own comrades before. We move around among the elite and refuse to come down to the level of those below us to, appreciate their predicament. We begin to value people by their wealth and position not the simple virtues they possess.

On the other hand imagine God, the Almighty and the King of Kings, choosing to be born secretly in a stable among shepherds and their animals in the most remote part of the country. He could have chosen to be born as a majestic king in an environment of power, luxury and grandeur but he chose an environment of extreme poverty instead. What should all these mean to us? What is God trying to tell us?

As Christians it is time to reflect on our lives to see how humble we are in dealing with others. Jesus came down from the highest heavens to be born in a stable among the poor. Are we willing to come down from our positions of power and wealth to be with those lower than us? Do we have the humility to admit our wrongs and thereby ask forgiveness from those we have hurt? If we are not then Christmas is meaningless.

As we decorate our homes with Christmas trees and the crib let us have a peek into the latter bearing the infant Jesus and reflect on His extreme act of humility being born among poor shepherds. As we look at the shepherds let us be reminded that God has intentionally chosen to come into the hearts of the poor and oppressed and we too should do likewise. The images of the three kings who have come from afar amidst great risks to offer gifts should remind us that we too must face up to the challenges that we may encounter in seeking God in doing good in our lives.

Christmas has different meaning to different people. For those who have met only success after success in their lives, Christmas would be a season of parties, merry-making and some of charitable works for the less fortunate. For them it is a day of joy and happiness as they have never experienced any difficulties in life. We were like that when we were young leading care-free lives.

For those who are terminally ill and for those who have tragically lost a loved one, Christmas is not a time for celebration. For those in poverty and those affected by some form of tragedy and are left without proper food and shelter, Christmas is not a time for joy. For those parents who have been disserted and neglected by their own children in whom they placed all the hopes, it brings no happiness whatsoever as their yearnings for the company of their loved ones continue to agonize them.

For such desperate people who have never seen success and for those in distress undergoing the various trials and tribulations in life Christmas is a sign of hope for a better future. To these unfortunate people the birth of Jesus in such humble surroundings should bring hope that He has come to be born among them to guide them out of their agony and pain. It is this humility of Jesus that brings hope to the poor, the sick, the oppressed and the despised.

Of late we see the collapse of various institutions in our country. The good are persecuted and the bad rewarded over and over again. Law and order are been blatantly disregarded by those in power. Justice is trampled upon and there is open discrimination based on race and religion. Decline in morality is threatening the sanctity of marriage leading to divorce and disintegration of the family unit. We look around us to only see everywhere evil triumphing over good and as we witness that helplessly, we begin to doubt the very existence of God.

Even the Church that we were once very proud of seems to be failing us as politicking has become an established trend there too. It seems to have become more obsessed with rituals rather than the real essence of our faith. Love, compassion and justice that were once the hallmark of our faith are not there in the church anymore as it becomes more ritualistic and embroiled in materialism. Even our own pastors whom we had high regards as men of God seem to fail us as they get politically involved, being no different from us. We call ourselves Christians, the followers of Christ but becoming increasingly less Christ-like in our lives. We so saddened and hurt that the very Church that molded us is now failing us. Where are we heading?

As an air of despair looms over us, we feel like packing up and leave the country and our faith but something deep in us says that we should not let these setbacks deter us from continuing with our good works towards fellow men. That inner voice tells us that we must pick up courage and face up to these challenges, with confidence in our hearts that God will be there with us if we do the right things under all circumstances. He has chosen to be born among us and his birth should inspire us continue His works among fellow men.

It is in doing good to others that inspire us to brace up to all the challenges. It is in sharing the blessings He had bestowed upon us, however little that may be, with those who are in dire need of those blessings that gives us the courage to go forward. Every one of us, however poor or handicapped, will have something to share with others; all it needs is a heart to do so. 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 the invaluable possessions that we can share with those who are down and out.

Let’s welcome this Christmas in the spirit of the true meaning of the birth of Jesus into the world. To those who are down it is a symbol of hope for a better future and to others who are up it is a call for humility in their lives.

Wishing you a very Happy and blessed Christmas.

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