THE TWO PILLARS OF THE CHRISTMAS STORY:A Christmas Reflection Rev. Fr. Boniface Nkem Anusiem Ph.D.

Nativity Scene Fine Art Jigsaw Puzzles

The greatest story ever told is not the Midsummer Night’s Dream comedy of William Shakespeare; it is not the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet nor the tragicomedy of the Merchant of Venice. The greatest story ever told, which has no comparison and would never have any, is the story of the incarnation; God coming down to us, taking our human flesh, and dwelling with us (John 1:14).

Many Christians today do not have the proper insight and understanding of the Christmas story, so we have unfortunately allowed many unconnected accessories to come into the holy celebration.

Christmas is now a highly commercialized “commodity” as people give greater attention to the triangular-shaped trees and exotic bright lights than to the celebrant, Jesus Christ. Sri Lanka, a predominantly Buddhist nation (70% of the population), has the tallest artificial Christmas tree globally, which is about 72.1 meters tall (236 feet 6.58 in). If you ask if the Christmas tree has a dependable representation and homage to Jesus Christ, the reason for the season, the answer would be in the negative.

What should we celebrate at Christmas?

There should always be a reason for any celebration we undertake. The funny thing is that most people celebrate for the wrong reasons. For instance, how many people celebrate their birthdays by thankfully reflecting on the purpose of their lives on earth?

At Christmas, we do not just celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, but more profoundly, we celebrate God’s unfathomable love and humility. Let us take a more decisive look at the two essential pillars in the context of the celebration of Christmas.

Christmas celebrates God’s love:

God’s love for us is immeasurably profound. Jeremiah (31:3) tells us that God loves us with an everlasting love. And in the Gospel of John (3:16), we read that familiar but resonant statement that God loved the world so much that he gave us His only begotten Son so that whosoever believes in him would not die but have eternal life.

There would be a need for us to take a little time to reflect on God’s gift of love to us. Imagine that you decide to give out the best thing you have to someone; I mean something irreplaceable; what would you give? On the platform of love, God gave us Himself, in the person of the Son, so that we can live because we were dead to sin (Ephesians 2:5).

At Christmas, we celebrate the love of God made flesh. God’s love is no longer a mere scriptural text or message. It is now a fact of lived experience. Love is born for us, and this birth marks the beginning of a new era for humanity.

The love of God brought light into the world. The first light at creation (Gen. 1:3) departed when Adam and Eve sinned. Now, we have the light back. The prophet Isaiah said, “Those who are walking in darkness have seen a great light, on those living in the land of the shadow of death, a great light has dawned (Isaiah 9:2).” Light brings life, warmth, sight, and hope. Now we understand what it means when we talk about Christmas light; Christ, the light of the world, is the true light of Christmas.

Christmas Celebrates God’s humility

It often makes me emotional to talk about God’s humility, which is another reference point for us at Christmas. God humbled himself to the extent that the creator could be in the womb of one of His creatures and be born from the same womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Divinity took the birth route of humanity.

At Christmas, we celebrate the humility of God when He had to depend on us for provision, though he is our eternal provider (Philippians 4:19). At Christmas, we celebrate God’s humility by making Himself vulnerable to the point that he needed human protection from murderers like Herod. However, He is our refuge and strength, a present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1). At Christmas, we celebrate God’s humility by allowing one of us, Joseph, to lead him to safety in Egypt though He is the shepherd that leads us along the right paths and through the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23: 3-4)

Responding to the Christmas Message Amid the Covid-19

I was recently talking about the love of God to a lady who lost her husband and her mom to the covid-19 virus. Turning to me in tears, the lady asked me where God’s love was hiding when the virus claimed the lives of the two most important people in her life? Of course, I did not answer her because nothing could have made sense to her at that grieving moment.

We are celebrating Christmas with face masks, though we did not imagine this at the inception of the year. Many people could be mad at God for the sudden disappearance of what we use to know as normal. Some people feel that the Christmas celebration does not worth the stress this time because we may not do things the way we used to do them. If you have these or similar thoughts, you need to know that it could have been worse. Yes! We complain just because we are still living, not that we are better than the millions who are cooling off in the cemetery.

If you are alive on this day, you should have it as an obligation to thank God. The ravaging effect of the virus does not mean that God loves us less. Even amid what is happening, we could still attest to God’s love. God says in the Book of Jeremiah (29: 11) that he has great plans for a future and a hope for us.  There is hope for us with the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ this Christmas; light cannot be born, and we remain in darkness; no; We shall rise and shine!

Moving forward with the Pillars of Christmas Story

There would be the need for us to respond to the two pillars of Christmas, namely, God’s love and humility. Love St. Paul says, conquers all things (1 Cor. 13:7). We respond to God’s love by giving love a chance in our lives. And we could do this by being generous with what we have just as we continually receive from God. We also respond by our intentional humility like the newborn King, who was so humble as to take our human form without counting his equality with God (Phil. 2:6-9).

May, the love of God, which surpasses all things, including the challenges around us, grant us renewed strength and energy as we set to launch into the new year. Merry Christmas and remember to love and be humble as not to stumble. Keep Christ in the Christmas! God bless you.

Fr. Bonnie.    

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