Today is Christmas. The very word conjures up a feeling and sense of joy. People refer to the word Christmas when they want to describe moments of great joy and great favour. We hear them say ‘it was like Christmas when this unexpected windfall came my way’. Why is Christmas linked with joy, celebration and goodness? What is the joy it brings to us?
Christmas is a tradition inherited from Christians who celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ the cornerstone of Christianity. Truly they are joyful about their Lord who they believe is the Son of God and came to the world as a poor man to save the world from sin and death.
But the question to ask today is whether these celebrations reflect the true spirit of Jesus who was born for others, lived for others and even died for others on a Cross. Yes there is a movement towards caring for your family, showing love and concern through the exchange of gifts and doing something for the less fortunate. Yet after Christmas people have a tendency to pick up their old lives and continue on their own self-centred ways.
Can Christmas this year bring us a joy and peace that will last beyond the food and alcohol that many believe is essential for the festive season? If so we need to look at the spirit of Christmas as revealed by the birth of Jesus Christ. The Son of God chooses to be born poor and in difficult circumstances because his purpose for living was for others. He was born for and lived for a cause bigger than himself. When he lived for others and served others, he met many challenges but claimed to have a peace that the world knew nothing about and a joy that he called full.
We too need to find out the source of our peace and joy on this Christmas Day. If it is centred on our selfish needs and self-interest, if it is derived from indulging in sensual pleasure and giving into our base nature, then it will certainly be short lived and end up causing greater pain to us and to others. But if we direct our energy and efforts to a purpose bigger than ourselves, like the well-being of people whom no one cares about, those too poor not merely in money but in power and attraction like the aged and the differently abled, and those whom society condemns like prisoners and others who have made mistakes that now define their lives, it is to reach beyond ourselves.
Yet to do so can be bothersome and painful. It can lead to difficulties and complications that leave us regretting that we ever chose to reach out to these people. But if we began with true integrity within, right in the midst of such obstacles we become privy to the inner peace and inner joy that the Jesus of Christmas promises.