Merry Christmas! Yes, even though today is the Fourth Sunday of Advent, today is also Christmas Eve and tomorrow is Christmas Day! This happens once in about ten years! Hence it is easy to feel quite frenzied and get trapped into an all too familiar paradox: the person whose birthday we are supposed to be celebrating is left out of the celebration! He is ignored. It is not intentional, but Jesus is often overlooked as undue importance is given to all the external trappings of Christmas, to Rudolph, Frosty the Snowman, Santa Claus, the Grinch, elves, and a long list of celebrated fictional characters that the media and companies present to us. Let me suggest three easy solutions:
- Take seriously the good news announced by the Angels: “Fear not, for behold, I announce to you glad tidings of great joy, which shall be to all the people” (Luke 2:10). We all know how fear can cripple us and take away our joy and peace. With all our intellect and innovations, we have not made our world safe and secure for ourselves and our children. But we can destroy this fear and live joyfully if only we can take the message of Christmas seriously by believing in the Prince of Peace.
- Give Baby Jesus one very special gift. Let this gift be something personal so that you don’t need to reveal it to anyone. One gift that will please Jesus the most is the gift to forgive someone you’ve wanted a long time. If you do that, you will have the happy surprise of finding out that you were the one who really got the gift, because as Lewis B. Smedes wrote in his book, Forgive and Forget, “When you release the wrongdoer from the wrong, you cut a malignant tumor out of your inner life. You set a prisoner free, but you discover that the real prisoner was yourself.”
- Read the Christmas story with your family this week. Matthew and Luke are the Evangelists who we can depend on for the birth and infancy narratives of Jesus. The first two chapters from each of these gospels are ideal for this purpose. Read at least one chapter each day starting from today.
Many of you already did this, but can do it again: bring your family and friends to enjoy the beauty of the 300 brightly lit Christmas trees. Walk among the shining trees and breathe in that ethereal feeling of joy and peace. May your Christmas be filled with the wonder of “Emmanuel”
(Mt.1:23: God-with-us). May his peace and joy illumine your hearts and your homes. Merry Christmas!
Your brother in Christ,
Fr. Abraham Orapankal