Christmas (Fr. Simham)
“Once upon a time there was a man who looked upon Christmas as a lot of humbug. He wasn’t a Scrooge. He was a kind and decent person, generous to his family, upright in all his dealings with other men. But he didn’t believe all that is said about Incarnation at Christmas is true. And he was too honest to pretend that he did. “I am truly sorry to distress you,” he told his wife, who was a faithful church goer. “But I simply cannot understand this claim that God becomes man. It doesn’t make any sense to me.”
On Christmas Eve his wife and children went to church for the midnight service. He declined to accompany them. “I’d feel like a hypocrite,” he explained. “I’d rather stay at home. But I’ll wait up for you.”
Shortly after his family drove away in the car, snow began to fall. He went to the window and watched the flurries getting heavier and heavier. “If we must have Christmas,” he thought, “it’s nice to have a white one.” He went back to his chair by the fireside and began to read his book. A few minutes later he was startled by a thudding sound. It was quickly followed by another, then another.
He thought that someone must be throwing snowballs at his living-room window. When he went to the front door to investigate, he found a flock of birds huddled miserably in the storm. They had been caught in the storm and are in a desperate search for a shelter. And they were trying to fly through his window. “I can’t let these poor creatures lie there and freeze,” he thought. “But how can I help them?” Then he remembered the barn where the children’s pony was stabled. It would provide a warm shelter, he thought.
He put on his coat and walked through the deep snow to the barn. He opened the door wide and turned on the light. But the birds didn’t come in. “Food will lure them in,” he thought. So he hurried back to the house for bread crumbs, which he sprinkled on the snow to make a trail into the barn. To his dismay, the birds ignored the bread crumbs and continued to flop around helplessly in the snow. He tried shooing them into the barn by walking around and waving his arms. They scattered in every direction – except into the warm lighted barn.
“They find me a strange and terrifying creature,” he said to himself, “and I can’t seem to think of any way to let them know they can trust me. If only I could be a bird myself for a few minutes, perhaps I could lead them to safety. . . .”
Just at that moment the church bells began to ring. He stood silent for a while, listening to the bells pealing the glad tidings of Christmas. Then he sank to his knees in the snow. “Now I do understand,” he whispered. “Now I see why You had to do it.”
That was A Christmas Parable written by Louis Cassels many years ago to explain the mystery of Christmas, in a simple but beautiful way .
Think of the many ways God has reached out to human beings to communicate with them since the beginning. The climax of God communicating with man in the Old Testament was when God formed the covenant with Moses on Mt. Sinai. God joined himself to his people in a covenant and they were joined to God in a covenant. But they still continued to sin. And so God raised up prophets to call them back but only a small number of people paid heed to the prophets. Through one of the prophets, Hosea, God said that Israel has been like an unfaithful wife committing adultery by going after false gods. All through the centuries of the Old Testament God pursued them like a lover but they had broken the covenant and God had to make a new unbreakable covenant with them. For this new covenant, God would become flesh and bones like us, and shed his blood in the person of Jesus to convince us once and for all to accept his invitation to be his people. Jesus was the climax of God reaching out to us the human beings. As we heard in our Gospel today,
The Word was made flesh,
he lived among us,
and we saw his glory…
“Now I see why You had to do it” wrote Louis Cassels in A Christmas Parable. And indeed God chose to do it, chose to become one of us to make us understand his will for us. Because despite God’s best efforts throughout all the Old Testament we still didn’t get the message. Sometimes you have to, as we say, rub their noses in it to make them understand. Christmas is, in a sense, God rubbing our noses in it to make us understand. Christmas is God saying, “Maybe this will grab your attention.” The Letter to the Hebrews expresses it beautifully,
“At various moments in the past and by many means, God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets; but in our time, the final days, he has spoken to us in the person of his Son.” (Heb 1:1-2)
God has spoken to us, the Word has become flesh. Let us allow God’s word to sink into our hearts. Let us allow God’s message through the baby in the stable sink into our hearts and minds. Amen
Fr. Showreelu Simham