“Living faith of the dead has become the dead faith of the living”, the words of Dr. Radhakrishnan is being proved in all the celebrations of saints of all faiths. People of all religions spend much of their time, money and energy in celebrating festivals and birthdays of saints. The pomp and show during the religious festivals display their spiritual bankruptcy.
Christmas which is a celebration of God’s incarnation as a human being in simplicity and poverty has become a thriving business. Market forces introduce various products to attract customers. Even people who do not practice Christian faith are engaged in marketing Christmas with various kinds of toys depicting Santa Claus, caps, masks, cakes and sweets. Markets across the world are flooded with people doing Christmas shopping.
With nostalgia I used to recall my childhood days when I made crib in my home, prepared stars and enjoyed special sweets made by my mother. Later as a parish priest I used to go around singing Christmas carols even in Hindu families, villages, made large cribs with light and sound effects, illuminated the church with electric bulbs and organized special functions in the church. I was passionate to make Christ known to people of the other faiths.
Since many years I do not make Christmas cribs. I remember my friend Father Shepherd going with a community of sisters to a tribal village in Searmau in Raisen District on December 24th to repair a house of a poor tribal family. After working the whole day with the family members they used to have Christmas prayer in that family and celebrate Christmas with the villagers. Fr. Shepherd and the sisters were living the incarnation of Christ in that village giving their time and service to provide a shelter to the poor family in the village.
While thousands of Christians celebrate the joy of Christmas singing, “Joy to the world…” announcing the arrival of God, do they reflect about the turmoil the country is going through in these days? How many of us reflect about the suffering of millions because of the recent laws enacted by the BJP Government? How many of them have studied the implications of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and amended Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the terrible sufferings they are going to bring to millions of women and men in our country?
Why do Christians who are called to be “prophets to the nations” (Jer 1: 4) remain silent to the cry of the millions? When hundreds of girls and women are exploited and brutally raped in the country how can we celebrate Christmas with pomp and show? How dare we sing, “Joy to the world…”, when thousands of children die due to lack of medicine and food every day in our country? How dare we go around singing joy of Christmas and light up our buildings? When conflicts and scandals are shaking the foundation of the church institutions and when the priests and high priests are accused of rape and financial scandals, how dare we preach of the Peace of Christ?
Christmas is a call from Christ to reincarnate ourselves to be agents of peace and work for reconciliation, starting from our families and communities. We can preach peace and reconciliation only when we become an incarnation of love, peace, forgiveness and reconciliation here and now. We can give joy to the world only when we set example of repentance and return to the way of Christ. Each Christian should be a voice against all that is unjust and discriminatory in the society and within our community. The voice may be a feeble “cry in the wilderness” without success and recognition.
I had been lighting up our building for a week during the Christmas. I have decided not to light up the building because I dare not to light up my house when hundreds of people in this country are living in utter darkness and hopelessness. Millions of people are at the brink of becoming stateless and suffer discrimination and exclusion. How dare I remain indifferent? Prophets are called to “cry in the wilderness” and walk through the “narrow path” without bothering about response or recognition.(Published on 23rd December 2019, Volume XXXI, Issue 52)