Friday, December 22, 2017

A reminder for Christmas

St. Matthew 2:1-12

It is the season of the birth of Christ and as we get into the festive mood let us also read the word of God and try to understand what the Christmas season should be for all of us. St. Matthew 2:1-12 tells the story of the magi or the wise people visiting Christ the Messiah. The wise people hear about the birth of the Messiah and they are out to meet the baby. They come to the palace of Herod because they think that Herod will know about this. But Herod has no idea and he himself calls upon his advisors and asks them about this. Herod learns from them that the place of birth is likely to be Bethlehem. He then sends the Magi to search for the Messiah and inform him as soon as they see him. 

Christmas is a time when we all remember the birth of Christ Jesus in our midst. It is also a reminder of the profound way in which God loves humans and all of God’s creation. But we are far away from the reality of God and in ways more than one we are always confused about God’s presence in our lives.

In the story of the birth of Christ found in St. Matthew 2 we see two realities of life. On the one hand were the wise people. They had some possessions and yet found that this was not enough for them to gain the happiness they were seeking. They hear about the birth of the Messiah and then take all they have and start their journey to meet the Messiah. 

The other reality of the story is King Herod, a rule unto himself, seeped in corruption and drunk in power. He has no plans to reform himself and neither is he looking for anything else because he thinks he has everything. There was a change of heart later in his life but this was not the case at the time of the story. Herod is not looking for any Messiah. Instead he is on the lookout for various kinds of amusements to keep him busy.

The two sides of the reality meet during the birth of the Messiah, Christ Jesus. In the meeting we have the opportunity to decide what kind of a Christmas we want to celebrate. For this we have to dissect the passage and come to understand what we can learn from it. Firstly, the birth of Christ signifies the coming down of God into the midst of humanity. It is such a humbling and yet powerful act by which God says to humanity that God loves us and will not let go of us, come what may. We can decide what we want to do because we have the freedom for that. But it is humbling for us to note that God who is so powerful can come down to us and be with us to suffer like us. The birth of the Messiah is a reminder for us that God loves us so much that God has become us so that we may become like him. This Christmas we should be reminded in all our tensions and problems, that God loves us beyond measure. Christmas is joy because we are told that whoever tries to exploit and isolate us, God will remain by our side in all God’s magnanimity. 

Secondly, the travel of the Magi shows us that humans are ever behind God and behind peace and happiness. This will never end and everyone who finds God will find peace and happiness. The magi were misled into thinking that the Messiah will be in the palace because the palace was the center of the kingdom. But they soon realise their mistake and carry on their journey following the star which leads them to their goal. Once they reach and witness the baby and his mother, they give all they have because it is lesser than what they have witnessed. Christmas reminds us that we have to journey to find Christ the Messiah. We cannot decide before hand where we will witness Christ. We will be led and we will be taken to places we have never thought of. This could be a manger or a cave or a road side place. All we have to be thinking about is to witness and worship Christ. We will be taken there and Christmas will be fulfilled.

Thirdly, the role of Herod is striking here. He is the King and the ruler who has power to decide who will live and die. This is his prerogative, so he thinks. But he is reminded that it is not the case. He has no idea who the Messiah is and where the Messiah will be born. He is completely at a loss for words and ideas. He realizes that he is the king but he does not know what is happening in his kingdom. Perhaps if he was humble enough, he would have known why. Herod is a reminder for us that we do not own anything. God is the owner of everything and we are care takers of all that God gives to us. The moment we feel that we are owners, we lose everything and become irrelevant. There are many Herods in our society who think that they have created something and everyone else should be subservient to them. But the birth of the Messiah shows us that it is not the case.

May this Christmas be a time when we remember that God loves us so much that God has come down to us to be with us in all our good and bad times. Let us make use of Christmas to remember that we are all on a journey to discover God and God is never in places that are big and powerful but in the least expected places. This Christmas let us let go of power and those who are associated with power because if we don’t, our ignorance will only increase and make us arrogant and insane. Christ is born but Christ can never be born into confinement and slavery but only into freedom and independence. Amen.

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