Wednesday, December 25, 2013

"Good News to the Whole World"

Christmas is a time of joy, a time to think of the many who find life difficult.  Efforts are made to bring  joy into the  lives of those who, for one reason or another, do not have the things we associate with the good life.  Parishes, organizations, many religious groups, and others, during this season, go out to the sick, alienated, and the poor to bring some joy into their lives.

The secular papers displayed a picture of Buddhist monks in one of the temples in Seoul, lighting the Christmas tree they had set up on their grounds. The picture, showing the monks and children dressed up in Santa Claus uniforms, was their way of showing respect for another religion in a very telling way.

Both Catholic papers reflected on the Feast Day with editorials and articles. The Gospel message for Christmas Day proclaims: “Today a great light has come upon the earth.” The Word has come to live with us. It is a  day of  joy. However, the archbishop of Seoul, in his Christmas message, mentions that more so than we have seen in the past an atheistic materialism and secularist world view is being nurtured. And, perhaps as a consequence, 60 years after the cease fire, we are not advancing on the way of peace  but being surrounded with the harsh realities of a cold war mentality. The culture of death is making progress, the  rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. The situation is fostering division and  strife. 
Where are we to find the joy of Christians in such a world? the editorial asks. All our bishops have stressed the need for harmony, mutual understanding, unity and co-existence. Jesus is a good example of the direction we should be going.

Leaving the joy of this time to a once-a-year event is not quite what is meant. As Christians, we should understand and live the example that Jesus gave us by relating to the poor and the lowly of his  society, not only in words but in action. This is also our task. The editorial wants us to turn our eyes to the poor, the migrant workers, and the weak of society. Jesus has given us an unmistakeable visual aid to accomplish this task, by the circumstances of his birth in a manger that is difficult to misinterpret.

The message of Christmas: "Then I saw another angel flying in the mid-heaven, the herald of  everlasting good news to  the whole world, to every nation and race, language and people " (Rev. 14:6). If we as Christians do not live in the light, we will not help overcome the darkness of society.
Buddhists, in their own messages, mentioned the lowliness and sharing and sacrifice  that Jesus showed us as an example to follow. The Buddhist monks have given us another outstanding example of how we can break down some of the walls we continue to erect, blocking our understanding of each other. Such efforts of communication in no way dilute or compromise what we believe. They are simply good will efforts to understand and respect the other as brothers and sisters of the human family.  A Blessed Christmas!

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