Monday, December 24, 2012

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will"

By George Katticaren

The adoraton of  shepherd
was painted by the famous
  in the 

Sassetti Chapel of Santa Trinita  in 1485.

The  Significance of  Christmas  is  well known to people all over the world. About two thousand years ago Jesus was born on Christmas night in a simple lowly  place  which  was  a  stable.  He was born to humble and poor parents. He too was humble throughout his life and sided with those who were poor, suffering and oppressed.

He was born at a time  when  ignorance, superstition, greed, hatred and hypocrisy  prevailed  in  society. The  priestly class was holding the upper hand in society. They  considered  themselves to be like gods on earth.  Morality was neglected.  Descrimination and injustice were  rampant everywhere.

The great  significance of  Jesus' birth is the spiritual awakening it was meant to bring. But today Christmas is more often than not celebrated as just a commemoration of a great birthday. But in truth, Christmas has a meaning  only when  Christ is born again in the hearts of  people and his spirit expresses itself through them.

One wonders how Jesus could initiate a vast movement like Christianity with twelve ordinary  people,  with  no  special  qualifications,  communication or transport  facilities.  Moreover,  his public life was so short  and  yet his disciples managed to spread  his teachings  far and wide beyond the then known world. No organisation could  have achieved such magnificent success in this world.

He was  gentle, compassionate towards the poor and oppressed. In his Good News  he proclaimed the message of liberation and freedom from the corrupt values prevailing at that time in society. But His  life came to an end abruptly with  crucifixion, a punishment  meted  out to him by the Romans, instigated by the Jewish leaders who were jealous of his success among the people. 

As centuries passed, a culture  has developed  in Christianity  that has  imprisoned the humble Christ in magnificent churches, with his divinity shorn of  his humanity, whilst  He Himself  is seeking a place in the hearts of people.

The  Nobel  prize winner, missionary  and medical practitioner Dr.Albert  Schweitzer  wrote  in his  famous  book "Quest of the Historical Jesus " as follows:
"[Jesus] in  the knowledge  that  He is the coming  Son of  Man lays hold of the wheel of the world to set it  moving  on  that last revolution  which  is  to  bring  all  ordinary  history to a close. It refuses to turn, and He throws Himself upon it. Then it does turn; and crushes Him. Instead of bringing in the  eschatological 
conditions,  He  has destroyed  them. The wheel rolls onward, and  the mangled   body  of  the  one  mmeasurably  great Man, who was strong   enough  to think of Himself as the spiritual ruler of mankind  and  to bend history to His purpose, is hanging upon it still. That is His victory and His reign.”

Jesus  was the greatest  human being ever born in this world. His moral teachings  touch  on a wide range of subjects such as courage,  fairness,   justice,  cooperation,  tolerance and   concern  for others  that  deal  with  human welfare. His teachings have parallels  in  other  religions too. But his uniqueness consists in the
incarnation approach to human problems.   In his preaching He challenged  many of  the traditions of Jewish hierarchy, such as the power of  the temple and the use of temple sacrifices. Ultimately the priests  turned against Jesus and  played  a major role in his crucifixion.

20 centuries have elapsed  after the birth of Jesus. But even today violation of  the human rights in society as  well as in the Church is universally discussed.  In the present  troubled  state of world affairs the spirit of Jesus and His humanistic approach  to human problems is the only means to reconciliation.

Rev. Dr. David  Hollenbach, SJ, Professor of Catholic  Theology wrote:

"The  history of the 20th century, with all its war and  suffering, has brought us to a crisis of  humanism.  It leads us to suspect  that social life is so broken that the best we can hope for is survival for the time being.

But  Christmas  brings  a  much deeper hope. The  stable at Bethlehem  helps  us  see  that  the  ultimate 
mystery  surrounding our lives is  a  source  of  reconciliation, indeed  of redemption. It unveils  that at the heart of the world is One who has  utter compassion for all who suffer.

The  angels' song of  "peace on earth"  brings hope in the face of every  oppressive  status quo. It  helps us  continue struggling toward  a  world  that is more just, less violent. This is  the heart of every genuine humanism; it is the source of Christmas joy. "


No comments:

Post a Comment