(published in The Indian Express – Dec 25, 2014)
Christmas is that time of the year that most of us think of Christmas Trees, cake, presents, Christmas carols and Santa Claus. But this is the day that billions of people around the world celebrate the birth of the Messiah who was born in Bethlehem more than 2000 years ago.
Jesus Christ or Yeshua as he was actually called by his peers was born to a humble carpenter Joseph and his wife, Mary. So powerful was his presence on Earth that three wise men from the east saw his star in the heavens and were led to him. They presented the blessed babe with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
When Jesus was 30 years old, he began his holy mission on Earth to bring the good news to the world. His message was simple – love God and love your neighbour as yourself. Simple as it sounds, this was a very powerful message and still is in today’s world where there is so much violence, strife, war, poverty and hunger.
The Good Samaritan
When asked by someone who is their neighbour, Jesus answered in the form of a parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37).
He recounted how a man was beaten by robbers and left for dead on the road. First a priest comes and then a Levite, neither of these helps the man. Then a Samaritan comes and helps the man and nurses him back to recovery. Then Jesus asks the questioner, “Which of these was the man’s neighbour?”
“The one who helped him,” said the questioner.
What should be remembered is that the Jews hated Samaritans. For Jesus to tell his Jewish audience that the Samaritan was his true neighbour, was a big step in those days when Jews didn’t even want to talk about Samaritans, much less talk to them.
This message of love and neighbourly conduct is as relevant today as it was then, perhaps even more so. We live in a world where there is so much discord between people of different faiths, nationalities and other divisions. The world is suffering tremendously by gruesome, heartless acts of terrorism and violence.
It is in these kinds of conditions that this Christmas we should endeavour to spread the seeds of love into the world. We cannot afford to do otherwise. The power of love is the most powerful force in the universe and if enough of us seek out God’s love and light and try to live it in our daily lives, we will surely save the world from self-destruction.
Love, peace, joy, forgiveness, service and hope are the qualities that will help us to continue to spread the message of the Christ on earth.
Jesus was a man of action. One of my favourite verses is –
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:16 (KJV)
Let your light shine! How lovely that sounds! Through prayer and meditation we can all increase our own soul’s light and that mixed with “good work” will bring God’s glory to the earth. By doing the works that Jesus talked about during his life on Earth, we can truly make Christmas a festival to celebrate with great joy.
This Christmas let us not only think about his birth, but also let us once again allow the message of love to be reborn in our hearts again as it was in Jesus’ times.
We do not have to do big things to make a big change. When we do small things also which are good and filled with love and light, they will create a ripple effect of goodness. When that ripple of love and light touches enough people, they will also feel like spreading it forward and so on until the darkness in the world ends and is flooded with the light of God.
There is one God and throughout the Ages he has sent his messengers to earth to spread this message of love and compassion. Every human being on earth is a child of that God. We each have a divine mandate to fulfil. We are all co-heirs of Christ as it says in Romans 8:17.
“The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” – Romans 8:16-17 (NIV).
Let the spark of Christ’s love bloom in your heart and then do the works that you do in your everyday life, but fill those words, thoughts and deeds with love and you will be contributing to the healing of our world and those people who inhabit it.
There are many paths that lead to God and it is not in division, bigotry and hatred that we should walk that path. For if we are true to our own selves and our path then we must also respect the paths of others. God is not interested in which path we take. For sometimes those who consider only their path to be correct end up like the priests and Levites of the Good Samaritan story, where in the end it was the one who actually acted on his love and mercy became the true neighbour, even though he was a Samaritan who was despised by the entire Jewish community. The fact that Jesus chose a Samaritan in this story is significant because it shows that even if people do not share your religion, your nationality, your views, they may be your true neighbours and blessed in the eyes of God and Jesus Christ.
God’s love is a love that transcends all divisions. It exists in every atom, every cell, every human being, every animal, every plant, every rock, every drop of water, every breath of air, every spark of fire, every grain of sand, every planet, every moon, every star, every galaxy and every universe, every plane of existence either physical or spiritual, every dimension. God’s love is inside you! It is inside you in the form of light. Look inwards and find that light and then let it shine so brightly that it compels you to act upon it and all people will look at your good works and glorify the God inside you. For as Jesus said clearly, the Kingdom of God is within you! (Luke 17:21 KJV)
This Christmas let us honour Jesus by acting upon his message of love, peace, forgiveness and action and service towards others.