By H.G. Job Mar Philoxenos, Bishop, Indian Orthodox Church
The celebration of the birth of Christ is observed world over with fervor
and gaiety, marked by giving gifts, sharing food and singing Carols. The
merry celebration often bury deep the real message of Christmas. Many are under
the impression that the drunken revelry and all those things associated with
are all that make what Christmas is. Christmas is not Christmas. Christmas can be anything,
but Christmas is Christ's Mass ie., Christ's sacrifice.
The birth of Christ has nothing to do do with the pomp and show of the
present day Christmas celebrations. Christmas brings to our mind the supreme
sacrifice of God, an action on the part of God to liberate Man from the
clutches of sin, to give him freedom, to restore the peace and happiness
mankind lost when it alienated itself from God. God created Adam and Eve for
being in communion with God. But when they committed sin, they got separated
from God. God became sad. God, as we know, is both just and love.
Theologically speaking, there was a strife of attributes in God between the
God who wanted to punish the man on the one side and the God who wanted to
love the man on the other side. Both the attributes were at war in Him. This
strife was settled by the decision of God to send His only begotten son to
crucifixion. The reward of sin is death. God's Son accepts death for the
sake of the entire humanity. God here exhibits His love by sending His son
to save the Humanity. Both Justice and love of God are found expression on
the Cross of Calvary. Jesus Christ, the Son of God thus emptied Himself and
become a Man in order that He may make man divine. This made the Man to be
restored to peace, happiness and the eternal bliss. It is these series of
events which are to be remembered on Christmas. For Jesus Christ, the birth
in the Manger and the life in the Earth and the death on the Cross were
painful, though he enjoyed everything as He was fulfilling the will of His
So Christmas brought back man his freedom. There is thus reason for the
people to be happy; for they are liberated from the slavery of sin. But,
remember this freedom has been brought to us through His sacrifice. Without
remembering this sense of sacrifice, the celebration of Christmas is
meaningless. Now what exactly is meant by freedom. An interesting anecdote
by A. G. Gardiner comes to my mind. A Russian lady with a girth of five to
six feet was once walking through one of the busy roads of Moscow with her
two hands extended to hold two baskets on her both sides, thus occupying
almost eight feet of the road. She believed that she is entitled to do that
as she is free to do that. From the opposite side, ther came a car driven by
a driver who too had the same sense of freedom. The freedom of the lady and
the freedom of the driver ran into conflict. Both could not enjoy the
freedom. Either the lady had to give way to the driver or the driver had to
understand the difficulty of the lady. Then only they could enjoy freedom.
Real freedom is achieved through sacrifice.
Jesus Christ brought freedom to man through His self sacrifice. Today, the
world is tormented by problems generated by the selfish motives of people.
There is no meaning for values. The values mankind built over centuries of
struggle have come to a naught by the mad pursuits of man for materialistic
pleasure. The prevailing principle is Social Darwinism. The more money you
have the stronger you are. It is to this world, the birth of Jesus Christ
conveys the message of self effacing sacrifice. The present modes of
celebrations of Christmas often miss this point.
May the celebration of Christmas bring to our mind the sacrifice of jesus
for the sake of mankind. May we also be reminded by the message that future
of mankind is only through the sacrifice each individual makes for his
May the the message of Joy through sacrifice inspire all of us to sacrifice
ourselves for the benefit of humanity and the greater glory of God.