Christ the Hope of a Blessed Time

When That Day Comes…
In the Pre-Christian Judaism, the concept of the coming of the messiah was held in highest regard. Many prophets spoke of the day of Yahweh; Isaiah, Zephaniah (3.9), Zechariah (9.9), Malachi (3.1b), etc.  Prophet Isaiah says that the Messiah will come of Davidic stock (11.1) and he will be filled with the spirit of Yahweh which also is the spirit that moves the prophets (11.2). He will establish in society that ‘integrity’ which is the reflection of God’s sanctity on earth (11.3) and he will restore the peace of Eden. Again “the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of God, as the waters cover the sea” (11.9).
The People of Israel were taken to exile by the Persians, the Babylonians and the Romans. They had turned away from Yahweh and turned to idolatry and pagan practices. They had lost all hope of the retribution of the Lord. But a remnant of Israel trusted and remained faithful to the teachings and practices of Yahweh. In the book of Micah we see Judah as the chosen clan from where ruler of Israel will come. “But you (Bethlehem) Ephrathah, the least of the clans of Judah, from you will come for me a future ruler of Israel” (Mic 5.1). And Mathew in his gospel refers to this passage, when Herod asks the Magi about the whereabouts of the Christ to be born (Mt 2.6).
The characteristic features of the Messianic age according to Maimonides is that,
“there will be no hunger or war, no jealousy or rivalry, good will be plentiful, and all delicacies (will be) available as dust. The entire occupation of the world will be only to know God... the people of Israel will be of great wisdom; they will perceive the esoteric truths and comprehend their Creator's wisdom as is the capacity of man.”
According to another Jewish tradition regarding messianic times, the messiah will gather all the exiled; restore the religious courts of justice; end wickedness, sin, and heresy; reward the righteous; rebuild Jerusalem; restore the line of King David; and restore the Temple service. Thus the messiah has to fulfill all the conditions of these expectations of the Jewish tradition.

The Birth of the “Hope of a Blessed Time”

Thus from the scriptures we gather that Jesus Christ is the long awaited messiah promised by Yahweh. He is the hope of the good and blessed time. The Lord gives Ahaz a sign; “the young woman is with child and will give birth to a son whom she will call Immanuel” (Is 7.14). In the birth narration of Jesus the evangelist Mathew quotes the same passage from Isaiah to identify Jesus with that promised messiah. “Now all this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: Look! the virgin is with child and will give birth to a son whom thy will call Immanuel – a name which means ‘God-is-with-us’” (Mt. 1: 22-23).
Another presentation of the birth of Christ is given by Saint Luke. He writes, in the countryside close by there were shepherds out in the fields keeping guard over their sheep during the watches of the night. An angel of the Lord stood round them. They were terrified, but the angel said, “Do not be afraid. Look, I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by the whole people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord (Lk 2:8-12).

Jesus Christ the fulfillment of the “Hope of a Blessed Time”

Thus from the above scriptural text and analysis we find that Jesus is the promised messiah. He is called Immanuel – “God-with-us” which means that Jesus is inaugurating a new time in history. The messianic era; ‘blessed time’ has been inaugurated; the Lord has come to live among his people. A “savior” has been born – Salvation is assured for all those who will accept him, as their redeemer. He has come to save people, to restore humanity to God.
Again the shepherds were the first to receive the good news. The shepherds represent the humble and the lowly people, those oppressed and marginalized of the society. Jesus brings the good news first to the lowly and the humble people. Good news is given to all who are ready to accept Christ. Again in that blessed time, the people will be freed from fear, for the Lord will be their everything, a joy to be shared by the whole people.
Another expectation of the messianic age is, to end wickedness, sin and heresy and reconcile man with God.  In the gospel of Mathew we find the angel telling Joseph in a dream. ‘She will give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins’ (Mt 1:21). Jesus forgave the sinners in his ministry. Jesus forgives the paralytic in Mark 2.9 ‘Your sins are forgiven’. The scribes and Pharisees are wonderstruck that Jesus forgives sins, “who is this who even forgives sins?” (Lk 7.49).
For this is how God loved the world: he gave his only son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life (Jn 3: 16). This is the reward for all those who truly are faithful to him and believe in him; they will have eternal life with Him.
Jesus also came to restore temple service the true form of worship. Jesus cleansed the temple which was desecrated by worldly business. He warned the people not to make his Father’s house a market place (Jn 2.16). Again Jesus teaches us to worship God in ‘spirit and in truth’ (4.23). God is not possessed by this tribe or that tribe; He is not worshiped on this mountain or in Jerusalem (4.21). God is spirit, and those who worship must worship in spirit and in truth (4.24).
Thus, in Jesus Christ we see the fulfillment of the messianic expectations of the remnant of Israel. Moreover, the messianic hope as expressed by Isaiah is fulfilled to the letter in Jesus Christ. When that day comes … will truly rely on Yahweh, the Holy one of Israel (Is 10: 20). When that day comes … his burden will fall from your shoulder, and his yoke from your neck and the yoke will be destroyed (Is 10:27). Jesus Christ came to destroy the yoke of sin. He asks us to learn from him “for my yoke is easy and my burden light” (Mt 11.30). When that day comes... Yahweh (will) give you rest from your suffering and torment (Is 14:3).
The prophets longed for the day when Israel will be filled with knowledge of God (Is 11.9). When Jesus began his public ministry in Nazareth he read the prophecy of Isaiah and claimed that he was the fulfillment of the ‘hope of the blessed time’. “This text is being fulfilled today even while you are listening” (Lk 4.21). The blessed time is also a time of the renewal of hearts as we find in Jeremiah 31.33 and Ezekiel 36.25 and the nations will be converted. This blessed time will be the period of a finally perfect worship in which all nations will participate. The peak of worship is to contemplate Yahweh and live with Him.

The Place of the “Hope of a Blessed Time” in our Christmas celebrations
The X-mas season is around again, and the whole world is filled with expectation for a happy moment. Schools and colleges are closing for a vacation; Office goers take leave and go for holidays. Children in the hostels and boarding come home. People in the villages and towns alike go for X-mas shopping; clothes, toys and gifts of various kinds are bought for family members and friends, and for the orphanages and hospitals. A large sum of money is spent on food and drinks and party.
The Churches are decorated with high voltage pomp and glittering lights, streamers and fluorescent tubes. The Dais, Altars and pulpit are decked with flowers and decorations. Cribs of every form and shape are made. Every window and portal of the Churches and homes are adorned with showy and superfluous drapers.
X-mas carols are organized in the neighborhood; loud singing, drumbeats and musical instruments accompany the shrill voices. There is sign of festivity and celebration everywhere. Youngsters go to dance parties and jam sessions; hip hops, belly dances, dim lights, everywhere in twos and fours.
Questions are always irksome, they make us small. But a timely and a good question like a good shake on a tight seat, can settle us. The “Hope of the Blessed Time” is born. We celebrate Christmas. Is there anywhere the sign of this blessed time? Is there Immanuel, ‘God-with-us’? Do we feel that presence of God in their lives? Do we experience the ‘joy’ experienced by the poor and lowly shepherds? What is the Good News that Christians receive today? Have we received the good news of the Savior’s birth? Has the ‘Blessed time’ arrived amongst us? Have we turned away from our wickedness, sin and corruption? In all the shopping and the decorations that are done, where is justice? In all the enjoyments, picnics, dance parties, carols, food and drinks, where is the prince of peace? Have we felt him in your hearts? Can we really and truly say, loud and clear that our Christmas celebration is a “Blessed Time”?

The Second “Hope of a Blessed time”
There is an absolute and invariable link between the kingdom on earth and the kingdom in heaven. Human life here on earth is just a journey, we are all pilgrims going to the kingdom of heaven. That does not mean that our live here is not real and unimportant. Nay, rather our life here on earth is absolutely real and as important as the next. In fact our life in the kingdom on earth is the foundation and the kingdom in heaven depends on the way we live our life here on earth. We human beings because of our brokenness and duality speak of ‘kingdom of heaven’ and ‘kingdom of earth,’ but for God there is only the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus will come again at the end of time to fetch us to his kingdom (Mt 25.31). But at that time only those who really and authentically lived their lives as a truly human person will dwell with him. He has already laid out the dharma for that kingdom: to feed the hungry, to quench the thirsty, to welcome the stranger, to clothe the naked, to empathize the sick, and to visit the prisoners. And whenever you do this, you are doing to Christ himself. The underlying principle here is Love. Love for God and love for neighbor.
The Trinitarian symbol and triad is the rule par excellence which can be applied to all human beings to attain heaven. I do not enter heaven alone, neither do I enter heaven with another person, I can enter heaven only if I have my God and neighbor. So is the rule applied for all human beings. There should be a perfect relationship between God, my neighbor and myself, like the communion of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.

The Blessed Time “is” The Kingdom of Heaven
John Marsb would say that, “throughout the whole New Testament there runs the conviction that the time looked forward to by the prophets has in fact arrived in history with the advent of Jesus Christ. The time of Jesus is kairos – a time of opportunity. To embrace the opportunity means salvation; to neglect it is disaster. There is no third course.” Thus the “Blessed Time” we have been speaking about has been inaugurated and established by Jesus Christ. If we have embraced the “Blessed Time” – justice, knowledge of God, true worship of God, living in God’s presence (God-with-us), peace, repentance, reconciliation, works of mercy etc., - then we are on the right track to the kingdom of heaven. Let us have a “Blessed Time” at Christmas.