Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Is Not Only a Birthday Celebration

Once upon a time there was a kind and wise king. Having worked a long time running his kingdom, he decided to take time off with his attendants to go hunting. They left early in the morning, planning to return to the palace before nightfall. Taken up with the hunting, they lost track of time until it was too late to return to the palace.

The  devoted attendants began to feel uneasy. The king said, " Let us go to the village to pass the night." His attendants disapproved, saying it would not be right for him to sleep in one of those shabby common homes;  even though it was late at night, they urged him to return to the palace.

The king answered with a question. 'If I go and sleep in a shabby common home, do I become shabby and common? Or does that house become a palace?

Today we celebrate Christmas, the birth of Jesus among us. And what Christmas says about Jesus is important, but equally important is what it says about us.  Emmanuel (God is with us) loved us so much he wanted to be with us.

A writer in the Kyeongyang Catholic magazine starts off his article with the story of the king, and compared the king's willingness to live with his people to the mission of Jesus to bring the news of the kingdom of God to all of us. Jesus came to, "Pitch his tent among us." He filled this world of ours with his glory, making this world a holy place, a place of beauty for those with the eyes of faith. He wanted us to partake of His divine nature, who became a partaker of our human nature. This is our prayer at every Mass we offer.

In rejecting those who would see the world as a prison to escape from (the Gnostics), and their dualistic way of seeing life, separating the spirit from the body and making the soul a prisoner of the body, St. John asserted the value of faith over knowledge. By becoming a human being, God shattered this belief of the Gnostics.

"Let this be a sign to you: In a manger you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes"(Luke 2:12). A manger is where food for animals is stored. Jesus wanted to make us aware that he came to offer up his life, as food, to give us  life.

God, taking on our flesh, has made this world his place of operation. God wanted us to experience the joys of heaven here on earth. Living on earth with all of creation we have the opportunity of enjoying the beginnings of eternal life. "God is not the God of the dead but of the living. All are alive for him" (Luke 20:38). Christmas is not only the time for remembering the birthday of Jesus but the time for remembering that Jesus took on our flesh and wants us, his followers, to awaken to our call to make the world holy.

To all a Blessed Christmas.

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