Joyeux Noel | Daily News

Joyeux Noel

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12 NIV)

It’s that time of the year again. Christians around the world including those in Sri Lanka will celebrate Christmas, which marks the birth of Son of God Jesus Christ, today. It is a joyous event that celebrates the eventful life of Jesus, whose words still ring true today, more than 2,000 years on.

This year’s Christmas was almost overshadowed by tumultuous political events, but sanity prevailed in the end and the previous status quo was restored. Christians and Sri Lankans from all faiths will no doubt welcome this political rapprochement that aligns well with the very spirit of Christmas. Bitter political, ethnic or other rivalries cannot take us anywhere, it is only unity that can take us forward.

Indeed, Christmas has now become a celebration that permeates communal and religious boundaries. Christmas has become a national celebration in Sri Lanka’s multi-ethnic, multi-religious society. People belonging to other religions actively participate in Christmas festivities and help their Christian brethren in the Christmas activities. Christmas is indeed an occasion that unites everyone across the board.

True, it has become commercialized to the extent that some children apparently believe they are celebrating the birthday of Santa Claus, that jolly character who arrives in a reindeer-driven sled from Lapland and distributes gifts to well behaved children on Christmas Eve. But looking beyond the glitter and decorations, Christmas is still a celebration of His Story. It is a story that changed the course of the world.

Christmas is all about giving and – forgiving too. It is about sharing what you have with others who are less fortunate. Jesus himself was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He was born in a manger in a common man’s cottage in Bethlehem. “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7

Christmas is no doubt a joyous occasion – there is nothing wrong in celebrating it in a materialistic way, but we must also be mindful of the spiritual importance of the day. Listening to the Christmas day sermon at the Church is not good enough – one has to follow those tenets in earnest. This goes for all the religions. In fact, many experts say that today’s society has become violent and crime-ridden, because people have moved away from religions and moral values. This is why it is important for temples, kovils, churches and mosques to get closer to their followers and congregations. The younger generation must be especially targeted. The religious leaders must pro-actively spread the message of peace and non-violence. “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27

This is essential for Sri Lanka, which is still seeking lasting peace and reconciliation after three decades of discord and rancour. It is not an overnight process. Religious dignitaries and the faithful can play a bigger role in achieving reconciliation in our land. Coming to terms with the past is an essential component of this exercise. Then we will be able to learn from those experiences and rectify our mistakes. “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13-14)

It is only through such a healing process that we can achieve lasting peace for all. In this context, we can seek solace in the core message of Jesus Christ – and Christmas – which has remained unchanged for centuries. His message is relevant today as it was 2000 years ago – “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. John 14:17”.

But peace must begin from within our hearts. Shedding evil thoughts from our minds and seeing inner beauty is essential if we are to lead pious lives. We accumulate evil thoughts including jealousy, hatred and envy in the relentless pursuit of money and material gains. We engage in sin, contravening the teachings of the Great Masters including Jesus Christ. “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin condemns any people.” (Proverbs 14:34)

This Christmas should also be a day for contemplating on the never-ending ‘rat race’ of life and guiding our lives in a new direction, sans wrongdoings and sins. Peace and compassion shall begin in our hearts and homes and then spread outwards. Parents have a special responsibility to ensure that their children grow up adhering to cherished religious tenets and moral values.

Christmas is not only about the birth of a Great Man, but also about celebrating his enduring legacy in a world torn apart by conflict. It is time to take His words to heart to make our world a better, peaceful place. “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13


 

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