The meaning of Christmas

Sunday readings in brief Chrismas Day Year C

Isaiah 52:7-10; Psalms 97(98); Hebrews 1:1-6; John 1:1-18

The meaning of Christmas

Dear friends, today is Christmas Day, the day we celebrate the birth of our Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ the Son of God. This season will end with the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist. I would like us today to reflect briefly on the meaning of Christmas. Well, there are many ways and perspectives from which the meaning of Christmas can be derived. I would like us today to answer only two questions that will help us to understand the meaning of this day. These are: i) Why did God come to us in Jesus Christ (Emmanuel – God with us)?, ii) Why did God choose this way (being born as a baby) to come to us?

The first question: God came to us so that he may restore our broken nature and make us once more sons and daughters. If you read the book of Genesis carefully, it suggests that God created man and woman in his own image and likeness and was always very close to him. However, because of sin, these lost that image and likeness and therefore separated him from the love of God. Since then, God made many attempts to bring man and woman back to him but all proved futile because man and woman kept separating from him. Finally, God sent his only Son Jesus Christ to come to us and restore our broken nature and teach us the way that would take us back to the father. The main Message of Jesus to the world is that God the Father loves all of us and each of us can choose to come back to him voluntarily.

The second question is why God choose to come to us as a child born of a woman just like us, whereas being God he could have used many other ways. In my opinion, again influenced by the story of creation and the previous attempts to save humanity, God chose this way because he respects us and cannot violate the freedom he gave us. This is underlined by the very fact that God created us in his image and likeness and breathed in us his own life. Giving someone true freedom means letting him or she choose the path he or she wants to take without muscling or putting limits on their path. St. Augustin of Hippo puts it even more clearly that, “he who created us without our help will not save us without our consent”. This is tremendous freedom of determination that God gave to us and that he will never take from us.

Because of this freedom given to us, God could only bring us back to himself by persuading us that going back to him is the best thing to do. In trying to persuade us, God used many people who were prophets or leaders such as Noah, Abraham, Moses, Elijah,  Isaiah, and John the Baptist. In different ways, each of these and many others tried to make people understand God’s plan. Before Abraham, God had tried to save the entire humanity together, and when this failed God decided to use one nation to save the entire humanity – the people of Israel. When this too proved difficult, God, therefore, decided to come to us and seduce each one of us individually. This is told through the Prophesy of Ezekiel “”Only the one who sins shall die. The son shall not be charged with the guilt of his father, nor shall the father be charged with the guilt of his son. The virtuous man’s virtue shall be his own, as the wicked man’s wickedness shall be his own” (Ez 18:20).

The Book of Hebrews tells us that God no longer speaks to us again through prophets but through his Son who has come to destroy all the captivities of mankind. The Gospel reminds us that the Word of God who was always with God and himself being God became flesh and dwelt among us in order to restore us individually and make us a living Church ended to heaven. In his turn, the son chose for himself people who would continue with his mission to bring all people to himself. All of us who are baptized and in a particular way those chosen to be ministers at the altar have the mandate and the responsibility to bring the message of salvation to all.

Dear friend as we embrace the baby Jesus in our hearts, I would like to remind us that no amount of prayers meetings, baptisms, miracles, crusades, adorations, or cleansings by anyone on earth, even in the name of Jesus, will save us if we ourselves are not ready to be saved. All these will be only massaging our spirits to think that we are on the right path. True salvation is voluntary and involves transformation.

Merry Christmas

Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD

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