Monday, December 25, 2017

Why Christmas Brings Joy-- Merry Christmas

 "Pleasure Christmas" a priest writer in the Kyeongyang magazine begins his article on Christmas joy with these words he saw on a pilgrimage to Macao. The word 'Merry' of the Christmas greeting was translated as 'Pleasure' in Chinese. Something he had forgotten came back to him. Is Christmas really a time of Joy?

When he reflects on Christmas he realizes that for many it's the season of Christmas that brings joy and not Christmas itself. It's a holiday, a day free from work, and we have the festive signs along the streets, trees glittering with decorations, carols sung and year-end eating and drinking occasions: not the entrance of Jesus on the world stage.

Why doesn't Christmas gives us great joy? Why doesn't Jesus' coming into the world leave us with strong feelings? May it not be that we do not experience his saving presence? We don't see his saving works in the world we live. Even at the time of Christ the world did not change, one sees the death on the cross as we gaze on the crib. The shepherd did not become rich nor did the angels begin a fight against emperor Augustus.

2000 years later we see no reversal from what we have seen. Shepherds are still poor, many have to work while others sleep.The Augustuses of the world are still strong they are still comfortable and partake of the goods of others, eat and live well. The law is on their side. Rich, developed, welfare countries are many and yet the place of the poor is still difficult. Conditions are  still the same what reason is there to celebrate? What are we saved from?

What is salvation? (Scripture uses the word "salvation" mainly in the sense of liberation of humanity or of the individual from sin and its consequences).  We tend to think that the almighty God will take away all our difficulties. Just like the superhero does in the movies.That is not what we see in the Scriptures. We are told that the savior of the world is lying in a manger. This is the sign of the savior. Why so?

God did not want to save us with his strength. He doesn't want us to be passive onlookers but cooperators in his work. We are to be the subjects of  salvation. He has given us a little spark of fire to continue his work. Jesus didn't want to set the world afire on his own but with the little sparks he has given us. These sparks we keep alive, we need to protect them from the strong winds with our bodies, and set the world afire with their light. By doing this we are also saved.

As Christians, our task is to take on the mind of Jesus that was present in the crib. This would make the world warmer filled with more joy. Our task is to help the weak live more human and holy lives: this is saving and being saved.

This is the way Jesus saves. This is the way we will understand and have the joy of Christmas in our lives."I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be  shared by the whole people... and here is a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger" (Luke 2: 20-12).

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