The Very Revd. Shahid P. Mehraj   ---   Each year on 25th December all over the world including Pakistan festival of the birth of Jesus Christ is celebrated with much religious fervor and respect. As the month of December starts, many Christmas related activities can be seen at homes, in Churches and in public places where Christmas trees are declared and cake cutting ceremonies are held; furthermore gifts are exchanged and Christmas Father distributes gifts among children and adults etc. In the midst of all these activities there is always a possibility to miss the real meaning of Christmas.

The event of the birth of Jesus Christ has divided human history in two parts; i.e. B.C. (before Christ) and A.D. (“anno Domini” in the year of the Lord). Lord Jesus Christ was born according to Divine plan which resulted in the salvation and redemption of human beings and led them towards reconciliation with God. This good news was predicted by many prophets several hundred years ago before the birth of Christ.

The message of Gabriel to Virgin Mary is a comprehensive explanation of the Person of Jesus Christ. It is written in the Holy Gospel that “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). For many people, the words “Son of God” are difficult to comprehend; but if we try to understand it in a metaphorical way, nothing remains difficult. Both in Urdu and Arabic languages the word “Son” is used metaphorically also which does not mean physical “generation” e.g.: “SherKaBaccha” (son of a lion), or “Ibn-ul-waqt” (son of time). Now, by “son of a lion” or by “son of time” does not mean that either lion or time has “generated” a person. St. John the apostle while writing about Lord Jesus Christ as the Word of God gives a clear witness : “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning… The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1,2,14).

The birth of Jesus Christ is a practical example of God’s eternal love for humankind. It is written in the Scriptures that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son (John 3:16). Christmas reminds that it is the celebration of the restoration of the broken relationships whether they were broken due to human instinct to rebel against God Almighty or they affected families and communities because of its darkness. Christmas is the day of beginning new relations between God and man and amongst human beings.

Jesus’ birth in a manger or stable is a clear indication that God cares for the weak and suffering humanity. His birth is the good news for the oppressed segments of society like distressed children, women and those who are voiceless and subject to injustice and terrorism. At the birth of Christ an angel gave this message : “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great goy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11).

Lord Jesus Christ gave the marvelous lesson to love the enemy so that world can be a place of peace, love and harmony. Therefore we must adopt such a modus operandi through which peace can be established that is essential for human development and welfare. Christmas is a reminder not to repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but to overcome evil with good, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, and be patient with everyone. And it is only possible when being filled with the Holy Spirit we will demonstrate God’s love in our life.

Christmas reminds us that no one has monopoly over God because His rain falls on everyone, and His sun shines on all; and the birth of Jesus Christ is a practical proof of God’s love, for this was the very reason of the God’s incarnation. So He invites the whole world: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew11:28)

Let us promote the true spirit of Christmas i.e. love, and eliminate all kind of hatred. Instead of hurting others let us uphold patience and kindness, so that others can live with peace and experience security and prosperity. Let God be God, promote justice and equality, and always stand for the truth because this is only the truth that can set us free darkness and oppression. We wish you a happy Christmas and a blessed New Year. (The writer is Dean of Lahore Cathedral)

 

The Very Revd. Shahid P. Mehraj