'Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people.' (Luke 2:10)
As Christmas day passes, the world is offered an opportunity to reflect upon the importance of joy in our lives. Students return home and are united with their families, people exchange wishes, gifts, share food and wine, and dedicate time for one another in order to celebrate this unique and festive day. Following particularly distressing and painful moments throughout the year; with terrorism, war and instability at the forefront of the world's affairs, the festive season offers glimmers of hope, unity and reconciliation.
Though many choose to remain ignorant or are unaware, this day of joy is not founded on trees, reindeer and consumerism; but on God becoming man - the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. This self-sacrifical act of love; God descending among us, offering and sharing His eternal joy and peace, is the very source of Christmas' everlasting celebratory spirit. Christmas, through its message and witness to the truth, offers humanity the only solution to our disastrous problems. The notions of giving to others, sharing, and rejoicing are not coincidentally practiced on this day, but are grounded on the very foundation of this feast. God becomes man not to punish us, or remind us of our mistakes and errors, but to unite with us in communion. The coming together at a Christmas table, the sharing of the food, and the setting aside of differences is nothing less than a very small taste of this universal and cosmic reality of God's presence among us. We should however, realise that in order for us to live our daily lives in peace, with 'good will toward men' (Luke 2:14) we must warmly accept Christ, born of the Virgin Mary, into our hearts and homes, bearing and sharing His self-sacrifical love continually. Saint Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, reminds us that peace and joy only come from God, and we are invited, especially on this day celebrating His birth and offering to us, to freely choose this way of life, distancing ourselves from the catastrophic traps of self-gain, discrimination and pride; all sources of evil. Instead, as the Ecumenical Patriarch's encyclical suggests, we are urged by our 'Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace,' (Is 9:6) humbly born in a stable, as a refugee Himself, to coexist with one another in harmony and joy, imitating Him, 'the Light of the World.' (John 8:12)