December 19, 2020
Christmas is a season of joy, happiness, frolic and fun. We visualize different plans, besides, spot different places for Christmas merriment. Some wish to go home, others for holidays, a few love to while away roaming around Malls, some visit friends, still others to amusing places. No doubt, all these are excellent abodes to savor Christmas festivity. As this Year is severely affected by the untold havocs of the Pandemic and its side effects, where shall we then go for Christmas 2020. I propose that we go to Bethlehem. Certainly it will not be a flight journey to Holy Land, but a spiritual pilgrimage. Four reasons, I consider prompt us to go to this holy city.
Bethlehem is a Home of Nourishment. The word "Bethlehem" is from the Hebrew word bet-lehem, which literally means "house of bread." Bread constitutes nourishment; it is the very life that sustains and gives health. Nourishment is so essential for any living being. Very truly, Christmas season is a season of eating; a season which proposes varieties of gastronomical entertainment. To all appearances, we live in a world where food market is the most flourishing commercial activity. The mélange represented by food culture is overflowing. However food in its excessive form could make humans a prey to gluttony and over indulgence. Sinking in the culture of haute cuisine can be an inroad for an epicurean living thus making food a substitute for God. Bethlehem is a place where we are fed with food which lasts forever. In Bethlehem, Jesus is nourishment. Jesus has made it clear at various occasions. I am the bread of life. Unlike nourishments which perish, Jesus’ nourishment is eternal, everlasting and immortal. Bethlehem, the house of bread is an invitation to nourish humanity with the bread of hospitality, of companionship, of becoming human and humane.
Bethlehem is a Temple of Enlightenment. The three Wise Men from the East came to Bethlehem narrates the gospel of Mathew 2:1. Now they are called as wise men. Men filled with divine wisdom who were able to see the Star and read the signs of the times. And these men realized there is immense wisdom in Bethlehem in the child born in a Manger. They recognize in this babe the real and true wisdom. Wise men according to the book of Proverbs are people who have a spiritual discernment of what is right and wrong. They are careful to not unnecessarily offend with their words. And they weather the storms of life with a steady faith. Wisdom spoken here is the Wisdom of life; wisdom not limited to this world, wisdom which would go beyond the rational competences of humans; wisdom which you cannot gain in any of the human internets and libraries. This wisdom was available in Bethlehem. Today we do have knowledge centres, impressive libraries, internet resources, online lectures and seminars. Knowledge is available at the fraction of seconds. But we cannot ignore that true wisdom comes from the mouth of the babe, born in a Manger in Bethlehem; wisdom of truth, wisdom of character, wisdom of obedience and humility.
Bethlehem is a Sanctuary of Peace. In the Bible, peace means not only freedom from all trouble; it means enjoyment of all good. Yes enjoyment of all good is seen at Bethlehem. Because in Bethlehem there is silence, no noise, no external spectacles. The baby is born in a Manger far removed from the hustles and bustles of life. Today we need peace. There is so much of noise. All are busy; the cell phone rings constantly, the messages pop up every second. We are forced to answer all the phone calls instantly. There is no time to meet, chat, relax and certainly to pray. But Bethlehem is tranquillity, it is silence, it is place of peace.
Bethlehem is the Palace of Bliss. Bethlehem was the city of King David. Hence it is a royal city. However with Jesus born in this city, He has given a new look to the kingly and royal regard. Jesus is another sort of King. Here we meet a king without power and might, money, prosperity, military potency. This king is a babe covered with swaddling clothes. But behind these swaddling clothes we see love, service, truth, happiness, forgiveness. As the world is clamouring for power, position and pomp the King of Bethlehem is calling for simplicity, humility, meekness, the pearls of human contentment and joy.
Let us go to Bethlehem for this Christmas, for we will meet the baby born in a Manger. We will be refreshed, rekindled, relaxed and relieved. With jubilant hearts we sing: “O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie! Above thy deep and dreamless sleep. The silent stars go by. Yet in the dark street shineth, the everlasting Light. The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”