Celebrated as a significant event in history among the countries with large Christian populations, elsewhere it is marked by colour, decorations, festive spirit, and overwhelmingly by feelings of goodwill, peace and amicability. Yes, Christmas carols, dinners, presents, gifts and social events absorb people.
It is wiser though to look at the deeper messages of Christmas in this day and age. Christmas is a time of hope, spurred by the birth of a babe in the manger. In times when the industrial and digital worlds have forged a rat race driven by dreams of riches, we live on a planet undergoing destruction from pollutants and fossil fuel emissions. Starlight at the time of Christ’s birth guided the shepherds to his manger on a cold wintry night. Look upwards for guidance today and you will likely find a haze of pollution obscuring your vision, and threatening the very existence of man.
Christmas is a time for peace. The Christ child was born to heal wounds, bring communities together and to inspire the strong and the weak to sit together in friendship. Beyond the razzmatazz of Christmas partying this week, the world has to realise that divisions based on wealth, power and political prowess can move us only closer to the brink of decimation. The Christmas message of peace is tied to justice, equity, respect for differences among ourselves, and the striving to find panaceas to all the ills, instead of segregating, building walls and leaving the marginalised to wallow in their vales of woe. Peace needs to be at the forefront of all our intentions, efforts and activities.
Christmas is the time to show justice to the exploited to the downtrodden, to the marginalised. Born in a stable in Bethlehem, Jesus was on the side of the afflicted, bringing justice into the world for those exploited and forced into cowering silence. The message of Christmas to the world now is: seek justice and act with justice. Humankind can no more be to the detriment of our common humanity.
Christmas reminds us that we need to act now, with resolve and determination, to make our world a better place. Only then can the message really ring true: We wish you a merry Christmas.