How Ready Are You For Christmas?
WE are presently in the season of advent, a season of expectation for the coming of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. This brings to mind the role played by John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, who came to make straight roads in anticipation of the coming of Christ. During his lifetime, John the Baptist was saddled with the task of preparing the hearts of men for Christ’s coming. Indeed, His coming had long been foretold in the scriptures and the people had been waiting anxiously for His coming, for it meant liberation from all sorts of slavery, sorrows and pains. But then, when Christ eventually came, they could not comprehend Him, for He did not come amidst glory, pomp and pageantry. The people had expected a powerful earthly King. But behold, the one that came was a lowly Carpenter, born in a manger, in an almost neglected part of Israel, Bethlehem. What does this tell us? Many a times, we look at the external features of a man, believing that the bigger he is, the more powerful he must me. We believe more in the external beauty, forgetting that the body is mortal, while the spirit is immortal; it never dies. As we celebrate Christmas, most of us would be preoccupied with what to eat and drink and the clothes to wear; forgetting to nurture our soul, which is the most important part of our being. And so, we are reminded today that the coming of Christ in Christmas should not only be celebrated by feasting. Rather, it calls for a radical transformation of our personal life in imitation of the Son of God, Who gave His all to redeem us from the snares of the evil one.
At this season of Christmas, also, we are enjoined to go beyond the corporal works of mercy to incorporate the spiritual dimension through church services, retreats and vigils, viz-a-viz: To instruct the ignorant; to counsel the doubtful; to admonish sinners; to bear wrongs patiently; to forgive offences willingly; to comfort the afflicted, as well as pray for the living and the dead. When we combine all these, we would have succeeded to a great extent in fulfilling the admonition of our Lord Jesus Christ who said thus: ‘Whatever you do to the least of my brother that you do unto me.’ (cf Mathew 25: 40). By creating time to share the joy of the yuletide through the nourishment of our bodies and souls with fellow brothers and sisters, especially those in prisons or infirmed, we would be sending them a heart-warming message that God loves them and understands their travails; that though things may appear tough at the moment, all would be well; that there is need for them to rise, pick up the bits and pieces of their lives and gaze at the One Who gave His life to redeem mankind from sin.
The message of Christmas is that of hope. By coming into the world at Christmas and eventually dying for us at Easter, Christ succeeded in re-uniting us with God. The paradise man lost at the Garden of Eden through the disobedience of Adam and Eve is now gained through the heroic obedience intercession of Christ, the second Adam, Who came to us through the second Eve, the Blessed Virgin Mary. And so, let us share the message of joy and hope all around. As we make merry and join our loved ones to enjoy this season, let us also spare some thought for those in captivity, both physically and spiritually. Let us also remember that we all have been bugged down by sin and need deliverance, for we all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. (cf Romans 3: 23) Anyone who says he is without sin is a liar. Our prayer today is that we may embrace the love, peace and lasting joy that comes with the Christmas season; a season of hope for all humanity. Amen.
Very Rev. Msgr. Osu, Director, Social Communications, Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos.
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