Tonight, after eight (ideally at midnight), bells of cathedrals and churches in towns and villages around the world will start clinging loud and clear. The pealing of bells will coincide with the priest at the holy Mass, while recalling the greetings of the angels to the shepherds at Jesus’ birth, will intone, “Glory to God in the highest and peace to people of goodwill on earth”. While the bells will continue ringing, the serenading choirs accompanied by orchestral music will bring that hymn to its grand finale, albeit in deep devotion.
I love wonderful music and choir during church services. The uplifting melodies inspire people get into a spiritual disposition. Except that sometimes with the choir’s focus on perfection, the wholly important two-tiered message of a) Glory to God in the highest and, b) peace to people of goodwill on earth, tends either to get sidelined or diluted.
Again outside the church walls and into the wider world, “Glorifying God” for the gift of the “Prince of Peace” through His birth gets dissipated due to other human causes. It is the human instinct for survival that develops not only into covetousness, greed and jealousy but sometimes takes worse forms like bitter conflicts, revenge, hatred and even bloody wars.
In addition the “glory” and “gratitude” owed to the almighty and the embracing subsequently, the Prince of Peace get further distanced due to the commercialisation of the love-filled festival, thanks to Santa Claus, the Christmas tree and other merchandises. Such things have little to do with the sublime message first conveyed by the angels for the benefit of humanity.
It is not for nothing that God decided to appear in human form in the person of Jesus except to share with all the people, presumably of “goodwill”, divine love and peace. Better still, that humanity could acquire “goodwill” and an “affectionate heart” by observing the tender manifestation of God’s love born in the manger. And an intense gaze at Baby Jesus — God’s incarnation — could lead one to deeper meditation, raising questions like, “Why is it that some of us, instead of working for peace and unity in society, get pushed into discord and division?” Or, “How could I let God’s free gift of love and its consequent peace, flow into my being?”
One could go still deeper and enter into conversation with God, with Jesus or with His mother Mary and basically ask as to what the whole event of Christmas could mean for me personally and how could I go beyond the external festivities to the essence of this great love story between God and humanity?
Shall we then all pray that all of us may experience “love and peace” — the sole purpose of Jesus’ birth — in our hearts, this Christmas?
And a Merry Christmas to you all from me!...