Published in “Messenger” 21st December, 2014
Advent, derived from the Latin term Adventus – “Coming”, according to the rubrics it is a preparation for Christmas. The prime focus is on preparing ourselves as worthy mangers where Christ could be born and also anticipating His Second Coming during the end times. According to the social and economical standards imposed on a man living down to earth, it’s the season to crack the codes on how to manage his salary and bonus along with the expense of gifts and clothes. Each liturgical year we dance the same drill, welcome Christ during Christmas, Crucify Him during Lent and rejoice that there’s Easter so that we have some sort of hope to cling onto till next Christmas.
Christians, one thing the world knows us for is the extravaganza of our celebrations. Be it Christmas, Easter, Weddings, Church Feasts, etc; we teach people how to celebrate large, every thread of our clothes oozes with pride and glory. Clergy, Religious or Laity we are honoured to call ourselves Christians, because we have created an impact in various fields of the world like Science, Astronomy, Law, Economy, Sociology and many more. We are trend setters, we create history. And by the way in doing all these we are suppose to follow Christ.
The important guest of Christmas who is suppose to be deep-seated in our lives throughout the year is Christ. True that we welcome Him with all honour and glory during this period of time, but what happens in between this Christmas to next Christmas in our lives? Has He been successful in making a difference in our lives? Or has He just become a passive guest whom we have invited and He talks whatever He wants but His opinions doesn’t matter to us and we choose to remain the masters of our own will, so called self imposed persons. Is any teaching of Christ included in our New Year resolutions? The perennial teachings of Christ need not be imprisoned within the boundaries of Faith or Religion. It is a Way of Life, a standard of living and indeed Christ Himself is our trend setter. Unfortunately we are clouded by our celebrations and forget the Spirit of the Teachings of Christ.
The Lord’s Prayer is one quintessential teaching of Christ. In itself it is the Gospel in a nutshell, the lifestyle of a person who wishes to follow Christ. I thought of taking this prayer to analyze the meaning of Christmas, because this prayer was taught by the person whom we are ready to welcome. In other words this prayer actually tells us what we need to do to welcome Him. It is also the first prayer a Christian learns and continues to recite/ merely mumble the words in countless rosaries and endless masses. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that the prayer has seven petitions, which is also reflected in the pleading gesture we assume when we recite the prayer. It is a universal prayer which could be prayed by anyone irrespective of their faith.
Thankfully Sts. Luke and Matthew decided to incorporate this treasure into their Gospels. This model of prayer provided by Jesus Christ is enriched with the themes of Equality and Dignity, Social Concern and Responsibility of each human person, Peace and Justice and most importantly the establishment of the New Jerusalem on Earth which is only possible through you and I. This prayer not only teaches one how to pray but also teaches one how to live their prayer. For this article, I take the first three petitions of the prayer.
“Our Father, Who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name.” – At the beginning of the prayer, Jesus shakes conventional traditions. Pompous of “Chosen Ones”, “Privileged People” are eliminated. Everyone is brought to ground zero. Rich or poor, Master or Slave, anyone reciting this prayer pleads to a common Father. He’s not only my or your but “Our” Father. It shows that each one of us is equal and dignified persons and we have the right to plead to our Father. The prayer continues with words like “us” and “we”. These are reminders for us to shed off our self-centeredness. One cannot pray for oneself without praying for the others. We are not individuals in front of God, but a community. What I pray should not only benefit myself but also my brother. The name of a person is not a mere noun, it is the identity of the person. It is something sacred to that person. Our wish and action should be to glorify God’s name and not to disgrace our Father’s name with our conduct. We plead that God’s name be hallowed but this responsibility is on our shoulders. People should not identify you as a Christian by the Cross you wear around your neck or by your clothes, but by the way you live, the way you react to people and situations in your life. This in turn will glorify the name of God. Failing to do so will lead to the defaming of God’s sacred name.
“Thy Kingdom come.” – We plead that God’s Kingdom should come. A kingdom where no one has any problems, no one knows what suffering is, a complete fairy land? Jesus never promised a Disney Land for anyone. There’ll be suffering, you’ll continue to have problems but the beauty of this kingdom you’ll be living in is that even though you are suffering you know that you will find a solution; you know that your suffering is temporary. Because your brother is there to comfort you, your brother is there to give you a hand to come out of the hell-hole you are in. Though we are created individually, we are created for each other. I am my brother’s keeper. When will this kingdom come? Again, though we continue to plead for it, it is our responsibility to establish this kingdom now. We find for opportunities where we could earn more, get more recognition, feel important in the eyes of the world, and trample/use another to fulfill our ambitions. This world that you please now, will not be your advocate at the Second Coming. How many opportunities have we missed where we could have helped another or made a difference by voicing our opinions? The first thought that crosses anyone’s mind in these situations is how will I survive after speaking the truth? What will happen to me if I stand against wrong? We are the ones responsible for the delay of the coming of this kingdom and we love to play Adam by pointing fingers at God or other obvious people who do wrong.
“Thy Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” – God’s will is not only that man avoids evil but also performs what is good. This calls the followers of Christ to be Active Christians. Who themselves will fulfill God’s will by ‘Doing’ His Will. How many times have I chose not to do what is right because my pride and ego is more important to me? “Only because I need to put you in your place I will not help you? You deserve to suffer!” We are self appointed judges in today’s context. We’ve mastered the skill of judging so well that we are competition to God who is the Ultimate Judge. Today, the biggest fear of a person is confronting himself, confronting his weaknesses. “I like to hear good about me, if you find anything bad in me, it’s not my problem. You have to accept me the way I am. I do what is right according to me. I know better.” In our world of ideas each of us are self acclaimed scholars, we know better than others. It is not we who have to change but others. One should be bold enough to face the reality of themselves. Yes, I am selfish! Yes, I am jealous! I am hot tempered! To do the will of the father, one should realize how one’s weaknesses become obstacles in fulfilling the Will of God. Make straight your ways before leading others in the straightway. If a person preaches or writes about morals and how the society should establish God’s kingdom but not put his words into practice, he becomes a mere clanking gong. You should walk your talk to be an example to others.
Every Christmas we welcome Christ and each second of our lives, in our homes and work places we don’t miss an opportunity to Crucify the same Christ by not following His teachings. Ironically, each day at least once, we recite the “Our Father” and don’t realize our own hypocrisy. So this Christmas are you really ready to welcome Christ? Are you willing to take the risk of welcoming this revolutionary teacher?
“All my life I have known the truth and I have known right from wrong. Most of us do. To know the truth is one thing. To live it … to create the kingdom of heaven on on earth is another. How many times in a man’s life does he do things that are repulsive to his morality in order to exist? How I have admired those few men in this world who could stand up for their convictions in the face of shame, torture, and even death. What a wonderful feeling of inner peace they must have. Something that we ordinary mortals can never know.” – Leon Uris, Exodus