The true essence of Christmas

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By Gabriel Osu

*For to us a child is born, to us a son is given—Isaiah 9: 6

WE are in that special season once again, a season of joy, of peace, of great tidings. A season when we celebrate the birth of Christ the King, the redeemer of mankind! Jesus is the reason for the season.

What does Christmas mean to you and me? I will like to draw reference from the views of two writers. The first is J. C Penney who wrote, ‘Christmas is not just a time for festivity and merry making. It is more than that. It is a time for the contemplation of eternal things. The Christmas spirit is a spirit of giving and forgiving.’

Next is the thought provoking words of George F. McDougall ‘Christmas means a spirit of love, a time when the love of God and the love of our fellow men should prevail over all hatred and bitterness, a time when our thoughts and deeds and the spirit of our lives manifest the presence of God.

The above comments say it all. Christmas is not all about merry making. We must also spare time to reflect on the essence of the period which is the love of God for humanity. This unquantifiable love is summed up in the popular bible verse John 3: 16 “For God so loved the world that he gave us his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him will not perish but have eternal life.”When we ponder on God’s love for us, we too are encouraged to share love with others, to embrace peace and be our brother’s keeper. When we are imbued with this love of God, we will be always willing to give a helping hand to those in need, to give succour and comfort to the vulnerable ones amongst others.

At Christmas, we are expected to spare time to contemplate on things eternal. That is, we must remind ourselves that we are strangers her on earth; that our real home is in heaven. And that no matter how long we live, we shall sure die one day. So many people who started the year 2012 with us are not around to finish it. Like us, they commenced the New Year with high hopes and aspirations. Some may have planned to marry this year, to buy a new car or to move into their new apartment. But alas, all those are now but a pipe dream. Thus, we should count ourselves lucky to be alive to see this Christmas. This should therefore be a period of gratitude to God for sparing our lives and counting us among the living. It should equally be an opportunity for us to mend our ways with God so that we will not be found wanting.

The spirit behind Christmas is that of giving and sharing.

The three wise men, on learning about the born child, came calling with gifts of gold, incense and myrrh Christmas heart is a giving heart, a wide open heart that thinks of others first. The birth of the baby Jesus stands as the most significant event in all history, because it has meant the pouring into a sick world of the healing medicine of love which has transformed all manner of hearts for almost two thousand years… Underneath all the bulging bundles is this beating Christmas heart. – George Matthew Adams t is December, the month of Christmas. Carols coming from every store, television set & radio, from church choir & ordinary people caught-up in the spirit of the season. Some of the carols are secular, some sacred with their various deep meanings.

Xmas shopping in progress

Xmas shopping in progress

This month, I heard three different people talk about December, they all said the same thing:, oh my “its December, an expensive month”. This caught my attention, why is it that people are talking about an expensive month instead of being happy that it is almost Christmas. We give each other presents but do we really know the essence of Christmas?. Jesus himself said, “love thy neighbour as thyself”.

Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ. A time for us to understand the lessons from Jesus & reflect on them. Jesus brought a new religion based on love & the vision of a God who is full of compassion & forgiveness; a vision of doing everything with a positive mindset & from a place of love.

In today’s day and time, it is easy to lose sight of the true meaning of Christmas. Amidst the delicious meals, sweet drinks, lovely songs & dances, beautiful friends & family members we would come across this season, let’s try not to forget about the child, born on a winter night so cold, whose bed was made only of hay & animal food; our lord Jesus Christ, who taught us all what real, genuine & unconditional love is. As we celebrate the birth of our saviour, let’s be human & kind enough to remember & show some love to those motherless babies, helpless orphans, hospital patients, prisoners, beggars & all those who are not fortunate enough to be actively involved in the celebration of the birth of our lord and saviour Jesus Christ.
Happy Christmas.

*Monsignor Osu is the Director of Social Communications at the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos.

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