Young and old alike, all of us have experienced or learned about momentous happenings that shook our world. Some events are painful to remember: the Nazi campaign of destruction, presidential assassinations, terrorist attacks. Others are joyous news: a war is finally ended, our nation’s independence is protected, a dreaded disease has been eradicated.
One event, however, rises above them all: the birth of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, Son of God, Prince of Peace, righteous ruler of heaven and earth. His humble advent on earth was for one purpose and only one: to sacrifice His life for the sins of the world- my sin, and yours.
No wonder the sky lit up with jubilation and praise! No wonder a unique celestial body hovered in awesome recognition! No wonder kings of the known world travelled months to see this Kings of kings! No wonder lowly shepherds heralded the news to anyone who would listen! “Good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” No wonder we celebrate... our Saviour is born!
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. A light has dawned upon those who lived in the land as dark as death.” The light that has come down from heaven has conquered the darkness caused by sin. Jesus is born. God became flesh. Our salvation is near. God gives us His only Son as an ultimate proof of His love for us. Jesus is born in Bethlehem. Bethlehem literally means home of bread. This is very significant because God became flesh to be our food and drink. He has categorically told us, “If you do not eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” When Satan asks Jesus to order the stones to turn into bread, Jesus tells him that man cannot live on bread alone but on every word that God speaks. Jesus knew for sure that he did not come to satisfy his hunger and thirst but he that he came to satisfy our hunger and quench our thirst. He would accomplish this by offering himself on the cross.
Today more than ever, Jesus needs to be born in our life and in our world. Our world is darkened by human selfishness, pride and sin. We need Jesus to reconcile us with God and one another. We need a Bethlehem experience in our life. The joy of Christmas is not for a day or a season. It is an eternal joy, a joy that no one can take from us because it is the joy of Jesus Christ himself made present in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who dwells within us (Rom 5:2-5). The first to hear the good news of Jesus’ birth were not the rich, the influential, the powerful or the religious and political leaders of Israel but the ordinary, insignificant and poor in society. Jesus came to empower the powerless, to seek and save the lost, to heal the sick, to raise the dead, to show us the Father’s unconditional love. May Jesus be born in our hearts and lives this Christmas.
By taking on our humanity, Jesus has shown us that we can be divine. He has shown us how far we can go even in our humanity. We can love more, dare more, believe more and be more. Nothing is now outside the scope of our humanity, which after the birth of Jesus is no longer a limitation but always an advantage. This is why according to the letter to the Hebrews, God who spoke of old only through prophets, messengers or messages, has finally and definitively spoken in and through a Son. This is also why the oracle of Isaiah composed towards the end of the exile and which announces the return of the exiles to Jerusalem find its fulfillment. Captivity and limitation have come to an end.
Thus, Christmas is not merely the celebration of a historical birth or a birth that took place over two thousand years ago. It is about becoming conscious of who we really are as human beings. It is the celebration of life in all its fullness. It is the celebration of the transformation of limit to limitlessness, of selfishness to selflessness, of bondage and fear to freedom and unconditional love.
The best recipe that should be taken from the Christmas stable to the Christmas table, is the recipe of joy, which will come when the inns of our lives are opened to welcome the divine infant in swaddling clothes, lying in mangers all over the world.
Christmas will always be a three dimensional festival, denoting the birth of Christ, the unity of God and man and the promise of salvation and eternal life. Christianity therefore inspires hope and confidence of a new life in Christ.