Redefining Christmas as a Season of Empathetic Self-Giving
Fr. Jerry John Mathew
(Vicar: St. Mary’s Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church, Detroit)
Christmas, a festival so unfamiliar to the early Christian Church, is now observed all over the world as the most important Christian festival. It was instituted to remember the becoming of God into human. However, it is no longer celebrated as a day of manifestation of the Divine Covenant to humanity; it is no longer remembered as a day of God becoming human. Now, Christmas is so well designed as a universal festival to make the world a productive market place, for some, to sell products overwhelmingly and some to gain wealth prodigiously, at the cost of the ‘irrationally consumeristic others’.
Christmas, a true festival of empathetic self-giving and divine charity, is observed now as the festival of the rich, by the rich, for the rich; as one among the many festivals that are intentionally made to boost the market economy of the global world, which is controlled by the rich minority. Offers, deals, purchases, exchanges, gifts, decorations, foods and drinks, and much more, make this festival a very special one today. But for the Church, Christmas is a day for commemorating the very self-giving of God for the salvation of humanity. Christmas is a day that reminds us of the importance of living for others; a day on which Love compelled God to make an unparalleled sacrifice.
Today Christmas must compel us to empathetically reach out to the boundaries and corners and stay with the ones who are lost, just as God did during incarnation. Hence it is time for us to redefine the essence of the terms CELEBRATION and FESTIVAL and rewrite their meanings as ‘time for an empathetic act of giving’ and not an apathetic act of gaining nor even a sympathetic act of making a temporary charity. Let us go and find the marginalized around us and help at least one during this season of empathetic self-giving. Happy Christmas.