A Hindu master, visiting the river Ganges, found a group of family members on the banks, shouting in anger at each other. He turned to his disciples, smiled and asked, “Why do people in anger shout at each other?” One disciple said, “Because we lose our calm, we shout.”
“But, why should you shout when the other person is just next to you? You can tell him … in a soft manner, said the master.
The disciples gave some other answers but none satisfied the other disciples. Finally, the master explained: “When two people are angry at each other, their hearts distance a lot. To cover that distance they must shout to be able to hear each other. The angrier they are, the stronger they shout to hear each other to cover that great distance.
What happens when two people fall in love? They don’t shout at each other but talk softly, because their hearts are very close. The distance between them is either nonexistent or very small…”
…… He looked at his disciples and said. “So when you argue do not let your hearts get distant, do not say words that distance you more from the other, or else there will come a day when the distance becomes so great that you will not find the path to return.” (online)
People have been shouting very loudly already, in wars, violence, terrorism, abortion, in the redefinition of marriage, in commercialism, in complaining about just anything, and many more. They have been angry with God in the seeming silence of God in situations of poverty, increasing number of war refugees, abuse of power, addiction to prohibited substance, discontent and other things, as at the same time they have been seeking for recognition, money, power, possessions, pleasure and other temporal things.
It is today that we celebrate Christmas, that God came to heal this distance between Him, the creator, and man, His creature: to be able to talk to us in our hearts, to be as close to us as possible.
Christian life is not about material things, for they perish. Christian life is not a matter of convenience because the latter is temporary. Christian life is not about personal preferences that we can even lose the sense of sin, for it is God’s preference and command to obey Him, to love one another and to serve the needy. Christmas is not about the condition of the world. It is not about the things that we buy or we do for our families. Christmas is about Jesus Christ, the Word of God, the hope of the world, the only hope. Christmas is Jesus. He invites us to celebrate Him in our hearts, in our families, in our church, in our relationships and in our responsibilities. Thus, to Jesus we belong. This is the joy of Christmas: God’s closeness to us.
As Jesus, Mary and Joseph brought hope and tenderness on Christmas, we are invited and encouraged to bring those virtues to our relationships, in our homes, so that the tenderness of Christ and his hope in the Father will also and always be born in every situation and condition of our lives.
Here are some pointers that we can reflect on as we celebrate Christmas and another New Year:
1. Your time is God’s time. You are a steward of God’s mysteries, and one of them is the use of time. Your time is God’s gift of His mercy and love. Therefore, your time may be used only in relation to service and salvation of your neighbor for His greater glory. Your time brings hope to others. It is a precious commodity not only for yourself, but for others especially. When you have a schedule, it means you have heard and accepted God’s call. So if you want to be on time for your activity, come early, because when you come on time you are already late.
2. Grow and bloom where you are planted. Jesus was born and grew up in the world that He created to redeem man from his sinfulness. You are born to be great in the greatness of God, the God who created you, the God who redeemed you, the God who provides for you, the God who brings you to Himself. Grow in God, so that like a tree, you can give yourself and everything that you are to Him and to others.
3. Open your mouth only a) to praise God; b) to encourage others to grow in the love of God; c) to tell them you love them; d) to lead others to goodness and truth; e) to teach them to love the ways of life rather than the ways of darkness; and f) to bring only kindness to others.
There is a Spanish saying: En la boca cerrada, no entran moscas. In other words, if you have nothing good to say, shut up, so that no flies can shoot into your mouth. If you want to annoy people, annoy them with your kindness, mercy and friendship. Don’t judge. We are created equal, with different and various features and gifts, otherwise the world would be boring. We are created from nothing, but destined for eternal life. What a life! Be thankful. Seek only kindness, humility, gentleness.
Why are there arrogant and boastful people? Because they have tried to rob God of his authority and power to seek people who must be submissive to them, to seek power for themselves.
Be careful with your words and your actuations. They are gifts from God for the good of others and His glory. Many abuse them though. And don’t make enemies. That cannot exist in the one human race created by God and that belongs to Him alone and among Christians of whom Jesus is the head.
4. Every problem carries a gift in it; it always carries a grace and blessing. In your responsibilities and relationships, when there is any difficulty, be the problem, or own the problem, or be part of the problem. Otherwise, you separate yourself from the situation, and you may just want to dictate what others should do, while you watch. And to top it all, people tend to always blame others for their misfortune. They think they are better than everyone. Remember, however good you are in anything, there’s always somebody better than you. If you own the problem, then you can be the solution, you can show others a solution, and you can brighten up your companions. Seek the wisdom of the cross and the blessing of those who suffer for the sake of peace.
This is what Jesus did: He owned our sinfulness and weaknesses so that He could redeem us and lead us to the Father. This is the reason for Christmas.
5. Grow through adversity. There are so many difficulties in life that we have to face. See the lobster: when it has to grow, it goes under the rocks, sheds off its shell, and starts growing again.
If you want to grow in the virtues of life, go to God, the Rock of salvation, shed off your hard shell of sinfulness, arrogance and selfishness, and start growing again in the humility, love and mercy of Jesus born in Bethlehem and laid in a manger.
6. Spend moments of silence and prayer every day. You have already been very noisy. Allow God to talk to you, and to work in and through you. In prayerful silence, you gain wisdom and strength.
So I encourage you to pray, and pray with your families and neighbors, pray with the church and in the church; read the scriptures and spiritual books, spend worthwhile time with your families, and be grateful for all the blessings you receive. Allow Mother Mary to pray with you.
The Church prays with us. We are never alone in prayer. Let Jesus heal that distance that we have created because we have been shouting at Him and at one another, because of our sins, and because we have judged in many ways the creator of the world. Let the infant Jesus heal our hearts that have distanced from the heart of God; and let Jesus, Mary and Joseph heal hurt and broken relationships because of pride, selfishness and abuse of the blessings and graces that we think are ours by merit.
Yes, our Father sent Jesus to heal us and the whole world. Celebrate Christmas. Celebrate Jesus. Celebrate, to heal one another and the whole world. With Jesus, heal that distance we created. Let’s not miss our opportunity to be one with Jesus, Mary and Joseph this Christmas. Then can we proclaim: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests, the very similar words the Angel said to Mary: Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
God bless you all; and a blessed Christmas to you and your families.