God so loved the world that he gave His only Son
“Freedom from Fear is the need of the Hour.” We are constantly living in fear. Fear of the sky falling on us, or the earth splitting up. Be a fear of Tsunami, bomb, Riots, Earthquake, fear of traveling in the train, fear of walking in the parks.
2019 year ago too, things were not different. The Gospel tell us that the Shepherds too were afraid, when they saw strange people in the sky; – naturally feared what will happen – Fear griped them – but when they heard the message “Do not fear … I bring you glad tidings… go- find a babe in the manger…”; they went and met Baby Jesus- slowly their fear turned into JOY and it increased their faith. This in turn led them with Jesus in their hearts to go out and spread His message.
In the life of Mary (Annunciation), Joseph (dream) – all had fear- but their faith and trust in God changed their fear into not only JOY but strong faith.
(Tonight we are called to bring all our Fear to the Lord to change it into Joy and faith.)
• Boy, 19 years, living in a small hut- alone- working in his father (who did not want him to follow Jesus) farm- earn money- why: because he believes in Christ.
• Girl 12 years house to be bless, when parents are not there (not fear but her faith and love in Christ).
• A Young man made the sign of the cross on this chest with a hot iron rod. Not out of fear. Fear was there to spread the love of Jesus Christ.
All three – once they found the Savior, their king of Kings, Prince of Peace, no matter what their hardships- they saw the ray of light. The Savior was born in their hearts, Jesus was a light within them. Their faith was a witness value to the other. They became ambassador of Christ (shepherd of Good News).
Fear can be taken away from us human beings only when we experience the Person of Jesus Christ. And when we experience the Person of Jesus Christ born in our lives (not just today on Christmas day, but daily). Once we are out of this fear- then we too will go out and Proclaim and share the Good tidings. Then this really becomes “joy to the world”.
One way of removing out of Fear- is by approaching the CRIB. When we approach the Crib (all of us have prepared one at home) what are we looking for, what runs into our minds and heart. What do we come to the crib for?
What are we seeking? What do we find? What are we looking for? What can we learn?
When the three wise men came to worship Jesus whom they recognized as Lord, they came as seekers- seeker of divine kingdom. What are we really seeking today in our lives?
We chase knowledge, not wisdom; we chase comforts, not real security; we look for social acceptance, not responsibility. We vive for positions, not for service; we look for power and the ability to manipulate others; we do not seek truth and transparent relationships.
What do we find?
Animals: donkey, lamb. Well the animals were the first to find and recognize the lord- it was by instinct) the donkey played an important part in the life of Christ. At his birth, flight into Egypt and also during the triumph entry into Jerusalem (Palm Sunday). Lamb, symbolizing the life of Christ, Lamb of God. Simple animals and yet with a profound message.
In all that we fill in the Crib with- lights, decoration, art work… the most important, we find GOD resting in Peace. We find God like one of us, in flesh and blood. We find the most treasured gift of our Creator, His Son dwelling with us. It is in this we find:
• PEACE: – in the silence of the night, in the silence of our lives, in the silence of our hearts.
• JOY:- Just look at the Faces of Mary and Joseph. Listen to the voice of the Angels. See it in the faces of the shepherds.
• LOVE:- love of God for each one of us. God so loved the world that he gave His only Son.
• SIMPLICITY:- The place for the Son Of God, a simple one, yet they had everything. The simple stable, with just the bear necessity of life. The shepherd were also simple people. We see in the message of the angels, a very simple and clear message. Open doors, nothing to hide.
Above all what do we learn from the Crib?
We learn a great tenant of our faith, that in Jesus Christ we see both Divinity and Humanity come together. That in each one of us, we have to strive to merge the two. For Jesus, many will say it was easy, but I think Jesus made an effort and thought his disciples too the same. (See the combination of his apostles, see the garden scene)
That in Jesus Christ and through Him we can, though being on earth can seek the things of heaven. That in all our Fear, anxiety, sorrow, despair, loneliness … we can still feel the love of God, care and concern of God for each one of us.
We learn from the Crib:
• C :- to be Caring. The love of husband and wife, a caring love and concern for each other. In this year of the Eucharist and Family we are called to be families where there is care and concern, which will lead to love and not fear. As parents we can substitute ourselves in the place of Mary and Joseph. Not only just for couples, but also we are called to show care and concern to our children. Let us bring our very own family to the feet of Jesus.
• R:- we see our day to day reality: we see Poverty, simplicity, rejection. We also find that God is aware of our situation, because He came to be like us. Experience the pain of human beings in this world and to transform them into Joy in the Kingdom. Let us bring our very own reality and place them at the feet of Baby Jesus.
• I:- we can see ourselves, ME in it. Can I identify myself in the crib? Can I see myself closer to Jesus? Am I able to, this Christmas, carry Jesus in my arms? Let us bring our brokenness, our fears to the Lord and ask him to bless them.
• B:- I cannot look at the crib and think only of myself and be selfish. Christ came for all humanity. And so when we look at the crib we are called to see in it our Brothers and sisters, especially those who are in not so good situation.
2019 years ago this child changed the hearts of the shepherd and they changed the course of history. And it is now up to us to carry on this change from: Violence to Peace; Injustice to Justice; Hatred to Love, and by doing all this we will eliminate Fear and we learn to live like sisters and brothers- in JOY.
This child of Peace brings in a message of Hope- Hope for an entirely disoriented world, world living in fear. This ray of light shines in the darkness of our World.
Every time we overcome our Fear of being a Christian it is then we celebrated Christmas. And in doing so we become angels and shepherds telling people do not fear, “I bring you Good News”.
Christmas is nothing but God walking along with us through hardships, pain, suffering, misery, misunderstanding and tragedy. God is also God of rainbows and blue skies that emerges after the sunrise dispels darkness and gloom. God who came to transform all our Fear into strong Faith, which in turn helps us to spread the good news.
Let us then as we approach Jesus tonight in Holy Communion, let us ask Him, just as He was born in the crib, to be born in our hearts, to eliminate all our fear. To strengthen our faith- so as to always seek Him who is our true Peace and Joy. And by doing so- to be like the angels and shepherds to go out to spread this good tidings- Good News to all.
Wish you all a Joy filled Christmas!!! God Bless You.
Fr. Franco Pereira, S.D.B.