Letting Christmas Happen to Us

The Nativity of Our Lord by Angelo da Fonseca

Come Christmas and there is a joy in the air. We in Goa are excited and exuberant to step into Christmas festivities. We can see twinkling lights and shining stars everywhere. and partake in the Christmas goodies being exchanged with friends and family. Goa ignites to the joy of Christmas and explodes love, hope and peace to all. Several tourists visit Goa at Christmas time and participate in the gala celebrations.

Besides, these grand visible celebrations, there is a silent spiritual dimension to Christmas. It is the silent night of Christmas that welcomes the light that illumines all humans. It reminds us of the deepest longing of humanity beautifully enshrined into Brhadaryaka Upanisad which says ‘ lead me from asat to sat. lead me from darkness to light and from death to immortality’. The holy babe in the cradle becomes God’s answer to this profound longing of a human heart. This is why Christmas is a saturated phenomena that manifests God in flesh and blood. This manifestation of God in human form is also an emptying of God. Christians have always seen this sacred and noble emptying of God into human flesh as God’s holy and perfect embrace of the entire humanity. In the holy babe, God has become fully God and fully human. One can therefore, trace a paradox of fullness in this emptying of God, reminding us fullness in emptiness of sunyavada of Buddhism.

How are we to understand this puzzle of fullness in emptiness? Do we have any image / mode of thinking that can enable us to bring light into the deepest mystery that is celebrated at Christmas? We can certainly find fullness in emptiness in the doctrine of sunyavada of Madhyamaka school of Buddhism. It teaches inter-relation and inter-being of all reality through its doctrine of dependent origination. We can see an inter-being being taught in Buddhism.

We may also draw similar conclusion from the logic of advaida that is taught by an important school of vedanta philosophy. Thus, to us Indians, it is not difficult to think together emptiness and fullness. This means the holy babe in the cradle manifest both fullness of the divine as well as the fullness of the human and the cosmic. This means, it manifest a profound integration of the divine and human as well as cosmic since the cosmos in already present in the human as well as the divine. This is why Christmas becomes the celebration of an integration of the divine, the human and the cosmic.

At Christmas, we enter in a special the divine-human-cosmic welcome. The holy babe in the cradle is both a symbol as well as a realization of this all embracing welcome.The welcoming embrace of the divine, the human and the cosmic that we receive at Christmas is a gift of love. It is a fuller manifestation of the divine, the human and the cosmic. This mystery of triune giving in the holy babe is a gifting that is drawing us to a self-giving to the divine, human and the cosmos. Our society in Goa as well as our country at large needs more of this self giving love. Christmas being a celebration of this threefold giving and becomes an invitation to each of us to join the little babe in the life of self-giving.

When we join ourselves in this self-giving, Christmas does not just become a manifestation of Christ or Christophany ( theophany) but will also become the manifestation as well as the celebration of the fullness of humanity (anthropophany) and fullness of the cosmos ( cosmophany). Yes indeed, Christmas becomes a great occasion to work to bring about a fuller and deeper integration of the divine, the human and the cosmic in our life. This gifting of self to the divine, the human and the cosmos will indeed let Christmas happen to us. Let Christmas happen to Goa, Goans, and India and Indians this Christmas season. I pray that Christmas truly happens to us all. God bless us. Have a holy integral and integrating Christmas.

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