The lesson and the spirit of Christmas

“We have to re-create in our hearts and homes this spiritual experience by thinking of the great challenges that befell Jesus from His birth”

Christmas has become a secular, unspiritual holiday. Now, the word Christmas is not used on festive banners. Greetings have changed to “Happy holiday”, or “Season’s greetings”, but seldom do we see signs or cards with “We wish you a Blessed and Holy Christmas”. This secularization and commercialization of a sacred Christian event has removed the person of Christ from Christmas. Its spiritual meaning and the child Jesus is missing from Christmas, both have been overtaken and blinded by the glare of glittering lights, dazzling tinsel and blaring sounds of what passes for Christmas tunes. Rarely do we hear the hymn Silent Night, Holy Night and seldom the name of Jesus from Nazareth, the Messiah who was born to save the world from evil, hunger, sickness and injustice. 

The deeds and names of the most powerful rich leaders, emperors, kings and queens have long withered to insignificance while the simple wisdom and self-sacrifice of this Godly Man has inspired millions and changed the world and continues to do so. Because the world always needs changing, His words, wisdom and spiritual presence have to be remembered and renewed by every generation-that is the purpose of the Christmas celebration and why we have to look again at the meaning of the Christmas story. It’s not as benign and sweet as the image of the cute baby in the straw would lead us to believe. 

We have to re-create in our hearts and homes this spiritual experience by thinking of the great challenges that befell Jesus from His birth and throughout His short life and untimely, unjust and tragic execution by ambitious and power-hungry religious leaders and a crude and unjust Roman official. 

He came to give us a way to transform our own lives, and the world around us. He bought compassion, caring, love, friendship , unselfish sacrifice, the dignity of women and children. He showed us the courage, we as His followers, must have in speaking out and confronting evil. 

His birth was not an easy painless event; Mary, His young mother, suffered birth pains, fear, want, and acute embarrassment for being unmarried, and was forced to leave her village, alone and helpless with Joseph whom she hardly knew at that time. She was surely shocked by the sudden delivery, with no medical help or even a midwife to help. It was so urgent that they had to take refuge in an animal shelter. They were rejected from the inn more likely because she was pregnant and being poor and unable to pay. Not long after they heard of the death threats of King Herod against all children two years and younger, a genocide was under way. Children were the enemy. The family of Jesus fled as refugees to a distant land as immigrants do today. 

We are still in the “world”, of evil, injustice and hunger and selfish consumption but we don’t have to belong to it, owned by it or corrupted by it. We have the example of Jesus of Nazareth to live by and to inspire our youth to care for others and find happiness that way. That’s the spirit and lesson of Christmas; let’s live it every day. 

 Fr Shay Cullen

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