Posted on: 2015-12-17

Christmas, so what!

Christmas is here again and many "emergency" teachers will spend time contesting the fact and date  of Jesus Christ's birth and the authenticity of Christmas day. What futile effort this really is, because we all know for certain that no video camera recorded the birth of the most important baby in history. By simple logic and by retrospective reflection on what Christmas has brought about in human history one could say that if Christmas had not existed before now we would have had to invent it. For one thing, at Christmas, we celebrate the one person whose life and death had the force to redefine human history, splitting our civilization in two, B.C. and A.D., except of course we do not really believe whom we say Jesus is.  So, Jesus came, such genius of a Rabbi, whose teaching was different from those of the Pharisees and Sadducees.  He taught with authority, predicted his own death, told his disciples to serve one another, to forgive those who offend them and then died an ignominious death on a cross. He had promised to rise on the third day and he did. So Christians got together after him and chose a date formerly set aside to honor the unconquerable Sun, to celebrate the Master. That date happens to be December 25 every year.  Other complainants, completely ignoring the hint of John's gospel (Jn. 21; 25), might even argue that Jesus did not command anyone to celebrate his birthday. Well, Jesus did not command us to ride motorcars either, nor did he command anyone to use a cell phone.

The real point in Christmas

Why, in any case, do we celebrate Christmas? What is the point in over a third of the world population celebrating, sharing, and reenacting the excitement of this one occasion? Given all the  brokenness, the violence and the human misery of our times, what value does Christmas add to these turbulent times? The answer is not far-fetched. It is the reassurance that God is not aloof to our destiny. Without that assurance man's destiny would be far worse than it actually is, with a sure dip into desperation. God wants to be involved with man not only in a remote way as seen in the Old Testament, but also physically through the incarnation. The point of Christmas is that right through the haze of our preoccupations we must perceive the light that shines through and follow it. Thoughts of God must override our anxieties.

The carols of Christmas

Of the  most touching blessings of Christmas  are the carols  which have become household signal tunes. The celebration of Christmas today unites people in a unique chorus all over the world even though at the very birth of Jesus the gospel reported the angels, not singing, but praising God and saying words of glory and peace. "Suddenly the angel was surrounded by many more heavenly spirits, praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and Peace,  on earth, to those whom God loves'" (Lk. 2: 13-14). Our world seeks harmony and peace, given the contradictions we see all around. Note how willingly people of all cultures all over the world gyrate towards a Christmas musical event anywhere it is found, in parks shopping malls, open fields or in public buildings. "Music", after all according to Lawrence Durrell, "is only love looking for words".  William Shakespeare was even more detailed, as he wrote: "The man that hath no music in himself; Nor is not moved with concord of  sweet sounds, is fit for  treasons, stratagems and spoils; the motions of his spirit are dull as night, and his affections dark as Erebus, let no such man be trusted. ark the music!" Who would dispute the positive effect of getting people to sing together as one of the activities that cure human beings of self-centeredness, isolation and estrangement from one another?  Few really can resist the power of music as practical proofs abound about its influence on even animals and plants, to say nothing of its therapeutic powers for some challenging human ailments.

The treasure in carols

I  agree with the proposition that people who make music together cannot be enemies, at least not while the music lasts. The carols of Christmas have the power to nudge us all towards the cosmic harmony promised through Isaiah which will emerge when the prince of peace appears. "The wolf will dwell with the lamb, the leopard will rest beside the kid, the calf and the lion cub will feed together and a little child will lead them. Befriending each other, the cow and the bear will see their young ones lie down together" (Is. 11: 6-7). This cosmic harmony would be incomplete if man, the crown of God's creation is not involved in it going by the prophet Zephaniah. "The remnant of Israel will not act unjustly nor will they speak falsely, nor will deceitful words be found in their mouths. They will eat and rest with none to threaten them" (Zeph 3:13) To get those results it is most appropriate that we all sing loudly our most uplifting  carols. "Joy to the world, the Lord is born, let earth receive her king. Let every heart prepare him room". "O come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant" declaring the presence of Jesus as our bulwark of hope.  For good measure, that disposition must be established through the words of Paul which we should make our own. "We are subjected to every kind of hardship, but never distressed; we see no way out but never despair; we are pursued but never cut off; knocked down, but still have some life in us" (2C or 4: 9-10).