Merry Christmas! Yes, Christmas is that magical time of the year when glittering lights and colorful decorations line the streets and homes and children are eagerly waiting to open the gifts under the tree. One word that we hear often during the Christmas season, especially from liturgical and other sources, is ‘incarnation.’ It literally means taking flesh. Christmas is the feast of God incarnating as a human being.
Incarnation is a familiar term I have been hearing from my Indian background with the Hindus. Their Scriptures describe ten incarnations of God “to restore righteousness in the world whenever there is a large-scale erosion of moral values.” But the Christian Scriptures teach only one Incarnation, and its purpose is given in John 3: 16: “God so loved the world that He sent His only Son so that everyone who believes in Him may not die, but have eternal life.” Thus every Christmas reminds us that we need a Savior every day, and that Savior is Emmanuel, God-with-us. That is certainly our cause for joy.
Pope Francis has written and spoken much about the joy we should have for having Emmanuel, God-with-us. Here’s a passage I liked from his Apostolic Letter (Misericordia Et Misera): “In a culture often dominated by technology, sadness and loneliness appear to be on the rise, not least among young people. This often gives rise to depression, sadness and boredom, which can gradually lead to despair. We need witnesses to hope and true joy if we are to dispel the illusions that promise quick and easy happiness through artificial paradises. We need to acknowledge the joy that rises up in a heart touched by mercy. Let us keep in mind, then, the words of the Apostle: “Rejoice in the Lord always.”
It is this joy that we try to express when we wish each other “Merry Christmas!” Let us not be cowed down by the secular progressives who want us to be ‘politically correct’ by diminishing the display of Christian greetings, traditions and practices. Let us not be caught up in the cultural war of “Merry Christmas vs Happy Holidays.” Instead, let us be proud of our Christian heritage that the founding fathers and mothers of our nation envisioned. Hence, religious freedom is an essential freedom that we need to practice joyfully.
Christmas blessings to you and to your family!
Your brother in Christ,
Fr. Abraham Orapankal