CHRISTMAS 2023: A Message

December 23, 2023

These are few lines taken from the poem, Speak to me of God, by Maria Luisa Brey:
I begged the almond tree: “Speak to me of God!” and the almond tree showed itself in full bloom.
I asked a nightingale: “Speak to me of God!” and she filled the air with silvery tunes.
I asked a fountain: “Speak to me of God!” and the fountain merrily spelled out its crystal water.
I besought my dreams: “Speak to me of God!” and my dreams came true.
I asked a child: “Speak to me of God!” and the child smiled at me!
I told a farmer: “Speak to me of God!” and the farmer showed me his standing crops.
I asked a soldier: “Speak to me of God!” and in shame, the soldier threw away his weaponry.
I asked my friend: “Speak to me of God!” and my friend caressed me warmly.
I entreated my enemy: “Speak to me of God!” and he, in forgiveness, stretched out his hand to me.
I begged my mother: “Please, speak to me of God!” and she stamped a soothing kiss on my forehead.
I asked the voice: “Speak to me of God!” but the voice could not find words. It remained silent.
So I asked a Christian, “Speak to me of God!”, and he said: “come and join us for a CHRISTMAS CELEBRATION!”

What is Christmas?

Christmas is essentially a memory celebrated of God’s love manifested in human flesh.

Christmas is a feast of God’s search for the human person.

Christmas is a feast of God’s coming down where we are in order to take us where He is.

Christmas is a feast of Love searching for expression.

Christmas is a celebration of love enfleshed.

Christmas is a time of fun and frolic. Christmas is a time for gift giving and gift receiving? Christmas is a time for feeling our friendship and fellowship. It is a feast of celebrating our mutual belongingness and unity. Christmas is a time for joy, for song and dance, for feasting and friendship, for reconciliation and renewal. Christmas is a universal feast!

The message of Christmas, the joy of Christmas, the charm of Christmas transcends all human barriers of caste, creed, colour, language, culture and community. At Christmas we recognize everyone as brothers and sisters, members of the same family, children of the same Father. That’s why Christmas is a celebration as well as a challenge. It is a celebration of life and love.

The Christmas story is replete with rich symbolism. What is the central point in the Christ scene? Where is our focus? Some would say that Christmas means Santa Claus or Christmas Father (Christmas Papa). In deed for many today Christmas means new clothes, plenty of gifts, a lot of expenditure, eating, drinking, singing, dancing and general merry making. In deed Christmas at times is reduced to crass commercialism and coarse consumerism. There is often Christmas today without Christ. Let me narrate this story to tell you what exactly I mean by Christmas today without Christ:

Some of you may have heard this story. Never mind; for St Ignatius of Loyola repetition is very much part of spirituality. In a Catholic parish the exuberant youth had spent long hours for many days to put up a beautiful crib. It was really beautiful and superb. Everyone was captivated by its beauty and creativity. All were mesmerized by the innovative ideas and skills of the youth. No doubt, all were thrilled, excited and happy - especially the entire youth group. Christmas night came and the Midnight Mass was over. The entire Congregation was about to gather in front of the Crib for a solemn opening with a prayer by the Parish Priest. Just then someone noticed something amiss. Everything was there – Mary, Joseph, the sheep, the shepherds, the cows, the stars, the Kings, the donkeys, the angels everything! BUT baby Jesus was missing! Someone had stolen the baby Jesus. It was too late to fetch a new one. The matter was reported to the Parish Priest. The priest remained calm, cool and smiling. He said: “Let it be. It is truly a right representation of the real situation in our parish. For many of you there is Christmas but there is no Christ! Let it be!”

Friends, we need to put Christ back into Christmas and NOT SANTA CLAUS! Putting Christ back into Christmas means to absorb and assimilate the message of real Christmas. And the message of Christmas is simple and straight-forward: God loves us so much that He himself becomes human for our sake so that we may learn what is to be like God. If God loves us so much as to give himself as a gift to us then we are really of greatest possible value. We cannot any more consider ourselves as worthless. We cannot anymore wallow in inferiority. If God loves us so much then it is important that we love one another as God loves us all. We cannot anymore despise and denigrate, devalue and damage, despoil and desecrate others. We cannot anymore look down on others as low and unclean. We cannot any more function on the basis of caste, colour, creed and community. We have to celebrate our oneness as human beings, as brothers and sisters.

Above all, the birth of Jesus Christ took place in utter poverty, misery, dirt and stench of a cowshed. And this is a challenging message for us. This birth of Jesus tells us that He loves and values those who are poor, those who are homeless, those who are afflicted, those who are unjustly treated, and those who are very badly looked down upon. Therefore, friends, as we celebrate this year’s Christmas let us become aware that God is both divine and human. He loves you, He is with you and He is for you. Today, in the world, with all its brokenness, unjust conditions, disorder and darkness there may not be an apt and appropriate place for God. BUT you and I, certainly, can prepare an apt, appropriate and attractive place for Him in our own hearts and in our own life?




By Fr Richard Mascarenhas SJ
Fr Richard Mascarenhas SJ is the socius to the rector of Vianney Minor Seminary and the spiritual director in the diocese of Shimoga, Karnataka - 577302 ().
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Comment on this article

  • Renson J Vas, Chikmagalur

    Sun, Dec 24 2023

    A very nicely written and thought provoking article. Makes one think about Christmas all over again…

  • Fr Anush DCunha SJ, Mangalore

    Sun, Dec 24 2023

    The message is very clear and apt. Christ is always given the back seat in this consumeristic world. Let us keep Jesus as the center of our celebrations and spread His message of peace, love, and Joy. Thank you Fr Richard for the message. Happy Christmas.

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