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Fill hearts with love, concern for the needy

In this season God showers abundant joy and blessings on the world
Rev Fr Dr Dominic Savio SJ
Rev Fr Dr Dominic Savio SJ
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Rev Fr Dr Dominic Savio SJ   |   Published 24.12.20, 03:19 AM

God is ever longing for us. Man too longs for God eternally. God’s longing and our longing meet  in Jesus. In Jesus God became man to fulfil all these yearnings and lead us to heaven to be with him forever.

Narrating the birth of Jesus, St Luke writes that (step father) “Joseph went up to Bethlehem (for the census) with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn” (St Luke 2/7).

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We can take a look at our life in the light of this scene. First we look at helpless Joseph with Mary in pain out in that very cold, knocking everywhere but hears, “Sorry, no place”. It is the warmth of our hearts which God wants from us for the needy. In them, Jesus is knocking. What ought we do to him in the guise of the shelter less or helpless?

Jesus was born among animals in the manger. The animals gave him company and warmth. He stoops to the lowest place to be born, coming quietly, as an infant. God stoops very low in total humility to defeat the pride of Satan to save us from sin. He wants us to be humble and serving. Also often it is the unexpected persons who come to our rescue than our friends. Similarly, let us also help those in difficulty.

We see the angel appeared to the shepherds and said: “I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all”. The shepherds were outcasts. Being lowest and humble like Jesus, they receive the good news of salvation first. Like the shepherds let us be humble yet joyful, offering our  simple hearts filled with kindness, concern, love and hope in the dark world of today.

A great company of angels appeared, praising God, “Glory to God in heaven and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests”. These favoured ones are totally committed to God, are righteous,  at ease with God and others. That way they have deep peace of God in their hearts. Let us establish this peace to be God’s favoured.

Pope Francis at Midnight Mass of Christmas reflecting on the birth of Jesus in Luke 2/7 tell us,“That holy night Mary gave us Jesus, the Light of the world. A simple story that plunges us into the event that changes our history forever. Everything that night became a source of hope. In the Child of Bethlehem, God comes to meet us and make us active sharers in the life around us. He offers himself to us, so that we can take him into our arms, lift him and embrace him. So that in him we will not be afraid to take into our arms, raise up and embrace the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, the imprisoned. In this Child, God invites us to be messengers of hope to those bowed down by the despair born of encountering so many closed doors. In this child, God makes us agents of his hospitality”.

We look at this season. Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year when we have so much joys all around. Not just for Christians, for all for various reasons. But above all there is real joy to the world because Jesus is born anew bringing the Good News that God has become man in Jesus to save us from sin and selfishness. That is the real significance of Christmas, that is the cause of real joy. Real celebration is when we realise this and do our part to make it really happen in our lives.

In this season God showers abundant joy and blessings on the world. But we need to do something, make a little effort, before we can personally experience this joy in our lives, in our families and in our world.

How do we do that? Well, that is rather easy to explain but pretty hard to practise. Let us look at the word JOY. It is made up of three letters: first J, then O, and lastly Y. J stands for Jesus, O for Others, and Y for You. JOY therefore is: Jesus, Others, before You. To know joy in our lives we need to place Jesus first in everything. Secondly, we need to try to please others before pleasing oneself. Others before me, that is the recipe for joy. That is how we can convert the Christmas “joy to the world” into a personal “joy in my life” now and always.

We know that those who practise J-O-Y enjoy peace, happiness and joy. But those who practise “self first” are finally always the unhappy and miserable ones, like the innkeeper who turned Joseph and Mary out in the cold or Herod who wanted to remain king by killing Jesus. On the positive side we have the outcast shepherds who leave everything to experience the Good News by coming in contact with Jesus, the Light that shone in darkness. They shared that Good News with all. We too are called to do likewise.

Today more than ever, Jesus needs to be born in our life and in our world. Our world is darkened by human selfishness, pride and sin. We need Jesus to reconcile us with God and one another. We need a Bethlehem experience in our life.

The joy of Christmas is not for a day or a season. It is an eternal joy, a joy that no one can take away from us because it is the joy of Jesus Christ himself made present in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who dwells within us (St Paul to the Romans 5:2-5). The first to hear the good news of Jesus’ birth were not the rich, the powerful or the religious and political leaders but the ordinary, the insignificant poor. Jesus came to empower the powerless, to seek and save the lost, to heal the sick, to raise the dead, to show us God the Father’s unconditional love and concern for us in Jesus. Let us realise all these so that Jesus may be reborn in our hearts and lives at this Christmas.

We keep alive in our hearts the words of Pope Francis, “May the cry of the little Child of Bethlehem shake us from our indifference and open our eyes to those who are suffering. May his tenderness awaken our sensitivity to recognise him in all those who arrive in our cities, in our histories, in our lives. May his tenderness persuade us to be agents of hope and tenderness to all people.”



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