Mapu Jamir, IAS Retd
Christmas is round the corner. Christmas needs no introduction in the land inhabited by festival frenzy people. However, the love of God has kept us alive to breathe and to eat again in the midst of deadly Covid-19 pandemic. We fume for not being able to celebrate Christmas in a worldly manner. Let us not regret over it. Rather praise the Lord for allowing us to see another day in the land of the living. We only need silent and divine worship of baby Jesus as done by humble shepherds and the wise men from the east.
One will never know survival unless one has been to hell and back. We know that Covid-19 pandemic has caused collective death and misery on global scale, disrupted lives and livelihood and the living have to cope with economic insecurity, anxiety and disruption in life. As no expert is in a position to say on the future of Covid-19, strict observation of all appropriate Covid-19 discipline has assumed greater relevance today. Let us not forget the words of prophet Jeremiah – “people will die of deadly diseases. They shall not mourn their dead nor be able to bury their dead.” (Jeremiah 16: 4). This is very familiar to Covid-19 pandemic. Getting vaccinated and following of all Covid-19 protocols by all are also a response to the tenet of Christianity – “love thy neighbour as thyself.” By doing this we shall be protecting our neighbour either directly or indirectly. Covid-19 should not be allowed to alienate us from church and Jesus. Rather, Covid-19 is telling us to re-invent, renew and go closer to God.
Christmas in its external form begin weeks before Christmas day. There is glittering display of material world all over this holy season. Santa Clause, Father Christmas, St.Nicholas, Reindeer, etc. are fictional characters. Christmas tree, Bethlehem Star, cake, etc. are different symbols. They are not Jesus – simply contributing towards the glory of Jesus Christ. They are external formation only. But we are not excited about inner divine experiences. The cacophony of celebration shuts us off from the silence of that Holy Night. We release our worldly revelry through joyful but noisy crowding. The pursuit of vain pleasure should not be allowed to overtake the pursuit of divine blessings. Otherwise we may even end up with the Inn Keeper with no room for Jesus.
A culture of good will, giving, loving, caring, concern and sharing has developed during Christmas time. Everyone has become to some extend a charity giver, a gift exchanger, a good will wisher – some genuine, some routine, and some just diplomatic. This culture is now almost universal in character. Business flourishes. But complacency at this time will be very risky because deadly virus maybe lurking around.
Let us remember the story of the elephant and the blind men where everyone was correct but none of them was right. An elephant was surrounded by blind men who tried to make sense of the whole of the elephant. Their description is chaotic. These blind men could describe only that part of the elephant their hands touched. The tragedy is that they were so involved with their own ideas and so sure of their conceptions that they became blind to reasoning. These are obstacles to spiritual growth. We humans too cannot describe the divinity of Jesus because we do not know the real Jesus. In the event of any conflict each side is convinced that it is right while the truth lies elsewhere. That is why John the Baptist made a strong proclamation – “make your path straight before the coming of Jesus.” (Mathew 3: 3) Humans have a tendency to claim absolute truth based on their limited subjective experiences. This is how Christians dissect Jesus today resulting in diversion in worship, assortment of beliefs, worshipping, cult break away, etc.
A faith has been born on Christmas Day - a faith of love, sacrifice and the truth. That faith has lifted millions from illiteracy and ignorance and placed them upon the road of freedom. It has emancipated millions from addiction to vices and millions from exploitation by fellow rulers. It has lessened the horrors of war and put nations on the path of peace and justice. Jesus came to transform human hearts from various vices. Jesus was not a sight – seeing tourist. He came for spiritual business and to harvest spiritual profit.
“Do everything in love.” (1 Cor.16: 14). Jesus loved a terribly sick man lying for 38 years at Bethesda pool in Jerusalem. None helped him. He was helpless. Jesus sided with the one who was the weakest and helpless. Jesus cured the sick man instantly. The wonder of Jesus is that beneath all our failures Jesus sees the real person. He loves us inspite of what we do.
Jesus exhibited in action the love of God. Words and works go together in Jesus’ ministry. In the parable of the prodigal son we see the love of God as the Father welcomes the boy home, and in the parable of the Good Samaritan we see the love of neighbour for neighbour. Each of us resembles the prodigal son but each of us should also be a Samaritan. This way we shall be laying our treasures in heaven where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. This will be our greatest gift to Christmas of 2021.
As you make Jesus the center of your Christmas, You’ll feel priceless joy in your heart.