Jesus- the Cause of our Joy and the reason of our Hope
When Rev. Fr. Umberto Marrocchino SDB raised the first Christmas star (lit with Kerosene lamp) in Kohima in 1952 it was an object of great wonder and subject of talk among the people of Kohima. People wondered how a man-made star could shine bright in the dark sky. When the moving star that the wise men saw and followed came to rest on the place where the Child lay, they rejoiced exceedingly. St. Mathew tells that going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother and they fell down and worshipped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.Today 2015 years after the birth of Christ, what star leads us to Christ? There are hundreds of stars raised in the sky during the season of Christmas. Do any of them lead us to the manger to meet the Child Jesus? Are we able to recognise and adore the Child in the manger, that is, Jesus in the world? Does our meeting the Child give us joy? What treasure do we have to present to him as gifts?
It was St. Francis of Assisi who began the practice of making crib. When St. Francis of Assisi requested his friend, John (Messier Giovanni Velitta) to make the Christmas scene in 1293 a year before his death, he wanted to tell the world the simplicity of God’s mystery and how God comes amid the poor to give joy and hope to them. Many times this year too many places and families in the world have experienced more Good Fridays than Christmas Days. Emmanuel, God with us has often been totally obscured by the lethal horror unleashed on every continent, in many countries, communities and families. Our experience in Nagaland had not been very different. Many tragedies have struck us and also many opportunities have come to us. These are the stars which should lead us Christ and through which we experience “Emmanuel” God with us. Often times, instead of experiencing the joy of meeting the Emmanuel through these stars of our life we often, like the Scribes and Pharisees, have demonstrated how poor we are at living with and respecting each other especially with our differences. But this should not discourage us. Just look at Christmas – the modest and unpromising way Jesus came among us; the way he experienced and endured misunderstanding and rejection until betrayal finally claimed him. Any hope we have for ourselves, the planet or our contemporaries can only come if we, as Jesus did, discover a deeper life beyond the horrors and miseries. Let us take our small gifts of forgiveness, mercy (this year being an extraordinary year of mercy as proclaimed by Pope Francis), tolerance, understanding, honesty, sincerity and present to Jesus, present in each other, so that we too experience the joy and peace that Jesus came to give us. Let us daily pray and live the prayer of St. Francis Assisi during the year 2016 so that our Christmas celebration may give us joy and hope:
“Lord, make me a channel of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life”.
May the steadfast love of God which never fails us be our blessing this Christmas 2015
Rev. Dr. James Thoppil
Bishop of Kohima