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Christmas Message - 2003
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 Holy Father.

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 brothren.

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.

Source: SGOS

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