Advent season begins today. This is the time of celebration as most of the homes have started decorating with nativity artifacts, lights and the most important - the Christmas tree. This is also the time when the different parish choirs practice seriously for the Christmas eve recital and the fun of going house to house for caroling. But along with this celebration this is also a time when some people deliberately involve in controversies to debunk the Christ event. This advent season people and authors from different quarters are using the new book released by Pope Benedict to do some anti- Christ bashing with regards to birth and infancy narratives. It was this Wednesday that Vatican released a new book by Pope Benedict XVI titled -Jesus of Nazareth- The Infancy Narratives. This book is the final installment of his trilogy on the life of Jesus. This book has an initial print of about 1 million copies and will be available in about 50 countries throughout the world. The book has been translated in nine languages while translation in another 11 languages are also being planned. The Pope has used this book to tackle some of the controversial themes in Christian tradition of faith. The Pope has been very vocal about the different foundation of Christian faith and has also written about his observations on the calculations about the date of Christ birth and the different narratives that are associated with the advent historicity. He validates the concepts of virgin birth and states that the immaculate conception is the cornerstone of Christian faith and can be seen as a sign of God ’s creative power. Both the virgin birth and the resurrection event can be considered as two unique events in history when God intervened himself into the material world. Thus both the virgn birth and the resurrection event are foundation of ones faith that ushers human kind to the a new state of creation. The transforming power that God gives to each individual when He is in relationship with Christ. He also states that the visit of the wise men should be seen more as theological event than a historical event, which I feel lends more sum and substance to the foundation of our faith. But people from different quarters have used Pope argument with regard to what is the exact date of the birth of Jesus Christ, the role played by angels and whether animals were present during the time of the birth to do some bashing of the celebration of Christmas and certain aspects related to Christian faith. . Some independent churches, news agencies and authors have also joined this bandwagon of bashing the Christmas celebration and the argument whether Jesus was really born at this particular time of the year. As Pope remarked the virgin birth is the corner stone of our faith, when God interevened into the human world, intervention so that everyone who receives God becomes the member of his family. Many a times what happens is that certain irrelevant aspects of celebration overtakes the true reason of celebration and thus Christmas often become a mere social and celebration event. How can we make advent season more than a holiday season, more than a celebration event of singing carols, arranging nativity play and going caroling is something that we need to think about.
We are meditating on the theme “Transformed Living” and the portion that we shall use for our meditation is form John 1: 1-18. This is the portion which John describes who Christ is and the reason for his coming to the world. The first few verses in the gospel affirms the how the Word was God and was with God and how the eternal Word becomes mortal, dwelling in human form. It is then John states the reason for this incarnation. He was the light that shines in the darkness and the one who gives his children the privilege to be members of God ’s family. But for that what is needed is that we need to receive Jesus Christ and spread His light in a world of darkness. In a time where events in the church are being reduced to mere social event or are converting events like Christmas into mere celebration events, let us consciously reorient our live so that when we plan to celebrate the advent season, it will be a time for people to recognize and affirm the Lordship of Jesus Christ in our life, rather than converting the advent event to a mere celebration event. It is when this reorientation happens that the true meaning of God becoming man, becomes manifested in the world and in the lives of people. It is this truth and reality that needs to be affirmed this advent season so that we all could make our advent season more meaningful and memorable. The Pope has made an attempt to spread the message of the true light- Jesus Christ through his book. Let us also in our own way spread the light of Jesus Christ through our celebration this advent season.
Rev. Dr. Joe Joseph Kuruvilla