Once upon a time, a seventy-six years old man calls his son on the phone to inform him that he is concluding plans with his attorney to divorce his mom. The son expresses shock and asks his dad why he would want to end a marriage of forty-five happy years, and his dad says that he cannot put up with his mom any longer and his decision is final.
When the son could not convince his dad to drop the idea of a divorce, he decides to call his only sibling and older sister to report the impending marital disaster between their parents.
The older sister was angry and calls the dad immediately, and before he could explain why he intends to divorce their mom, the daughter tells him not do anything and that she would be coming home with her brother next day which is the Christmas day so that they could talk it over. When she dropped the phone, the man hugs his wife in excitement and says to her, “they are both coming home for this Christmas the trick worked.”
A couple of years ago, I met a woman crying uncontrollably by the Christmas crib at the Church after the mass at dawn on Christmas Day. It was shocking to me to see someone in tears on a day that the whole world beams with joy.
When I tried to find out what was going on with her, she tells me that Christmas is always hard for her. She lost her husband and her two kids on a Christmas day some years back. While most people see the yuletide as a time to celebrate, she sees it as a mourning period and a season of sadness and regrets. For this poor woman, the birth of Jesus Christ at Christmas evokes depression instead of happiness.
At Christmas, some people cannot get a comfortable meal. At Christmas, some people feel a lot of pressure to buy gifts for their kids and loved ones even when the resources are not sufficient. At Christmas, people undertake long and often unnecessary journeys because of the pressures of the season. At Christmas, some people become so extravagant that they become almost beggarly in the New Year. Some people feel pressured to jingle bell when they face a lot of juggle to bell. Is there something humanity is missing about the Christmas? Yes! Many have lost the ideal Christmas.
What is Christmas and what should we Celebrate?
Christmas is the fulfillment of the divine promise that a Virgin shall conceive and bear Son whom she would call Immanuel, the name that means God-with-us (Isaiah 7:14). Furthermore, it is not just about God being with us but more about what God will be doing in our midst. The Oracle of the prophet Isaiah (9:6-7) adds:
For a child has been born for us, a Son is given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His authority shall grow continually and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forever more. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
At Christmas we celebrate the incarnation, that means God’s intentional act of coming to us and being one of us to redeem us from our agelong sojourn with sin. The Gospel of John (1:14) captures this very well when it says: “And the world became flesh and lived among us and we have seen his glory, the glory of a Father’s only Son full of grace and truth.”
Christmas is “HARD”
From our understanding of Christmas, one can see that Christmas is HARD. Yes, Christmas is hard because we celebrate ourselves instead of the one who is coming to save us. Christmas is hard because we do not get it. We build Christmas trees without Christ; we honor Santa Claus more than the newborn King. Christmas is hard for us to comprehend because we have a lot of lights inside and outside our homes, but we live in darkness in our hearts.
The irony in the statement that Christmas is HARD is that it is Holy, Adorable, Redemptive and Divine.
Christmas is Holy: Everything about Christmas is holy and should be holy. Among other things, the angel Gabriel says to Mary, “the child to be born will be holy; and he would be called the Son of God (Luke 1:35). The opposite of holy is unholy or profane. Profanity is, unfortunately, the prevalent life people live during Christmas. However, the ideal Christmas should be a holy celebration.
Christmas is Adorable: When the wise men from the East eventually located the place where Jesus Christ was born, St. Matthew (2:11) reports that on entering the house, they saw the child with Mary, his mother, and they knelt and adored him. We could recall that earlier, the shepherd came and paid homage when the nativity angels announced to them the birth of the Savior. To whom do we give adoration during the Christmas?
Christmas is Redemptive. The birth of Jesus Christ is at the same time the birth of our redemption which is the same as our salvation. The Oracle of the prophets have one common denominator, and that is the coming of the Messiah who would bring redemption to the people from the slavery of sin and death while defeating the devil (Heb. 2:14-15).
Christmas is Divine: At Christmas, we are not celebrating any human authority. Instead, we are celebrating the birth of the Son of God who is also God. Christmas is, therefore, a divine event which we only have a special privilege to participate as humans. Unfortunately, most people end up celebrating themselves and forgetting the focus of the celebration.
Where do we go from here? Should the Christmas end with the carols, sumptuous meals, and the extended and shorts visits to family and friends? There is an urgent need for us to allow Jesus Christ to be born in our lives, families, and the world around us.
Isaiah (9:6) says he is the prince of peace, may our lives radiate with his peace. Jeremiah (23:5), says that he is the righteous branch from David, may our lives go through the route of honest living. John the Baptist says that he is the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29), may we keep our lives open for his cleansing power.
Merry Christmas and remember to celebrate Christ our ideal BAE (Before Anyone Else).