Part 2 - Hope
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 the divine infan’s extreme act of humility being born among poor shepherds. As we look at the poor 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 to understand its true meaning. 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 ut sorrow. 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 but one of hope. 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. Everywhere we go we see groups and individuals who have virtually hijacked Jesus for their own agenda that often contradicts the very principles that He stood for on during his life on earth. 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, of which we were once very proud, 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 that was based on the teachings of Christ. 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 are so saddened and hurt that the very Church that moulded us is now failing us. Where are we heading?
In our own parish of NBVM we witness many shocking developments that we never imagined. Administration unjust, unfair elections, insulting priest, non-transparent financial management, division of BECs, etc. etc. It appears that all that matters is money and nothing but money. The church is no different from any other secular institution.
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 rightly 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. Whichever category we may in, His birth has a special and significant meaning in our lives.