modern radical cults may argue that our present day Christmas celebrations have their roots in paganism and hence it should be abolished or discontinued. They raise the allegations that the use of incense and processions during this feast were directly taken from paganism. With those critics we humbly argue that the Church has during the course of her history accepted many innocent pagan practices into her life, as long as they are not directly or indirectly opposed to Christian faith. However, we would like to point out that the use of incense was common in Jewish worship; the magi offered incense to baby Jesus along with gold and myrrh. If processions were a contribution of pagans, how do we justify the precession of the Jews that received Jesus with great jubilation on Palm Sunday into Jerusalem, the Sunday before His resurrection? Processions are expressions of different emotions; it could be for expressing great joy, or deep sorrow, or lamentation.
Atheists do believe that the celebration of Christmas is an immoral activity! They attack the display of manger scenes not only in public places, but also in private properties. Recently the city police department forced to remove a publicly visible shrine of the Virgin Mother of Jesus erected on one’s private property, in a suburb of Chicago, on the basis that there were complaints from neighbors! This is a sample of the anti-Christian sentiments everywhere in the world.
In the midst of these anti-Christian sentiments all over, we Christians have to go deeper into the meaning of our Christmas and internalize the spirit behind it. Our problems erupted from its celebrations in purely hedonistic tones, such as gluttonous drinking and eating, meaningless gift exchanges demanding others to compete, and sheer commercialization of a great mystery that turned human history into a rational and soteriological encounter with its Author.
First of all we have to realize that it is not the birth a Buddha, or a Gandhi or any gurus of history that we are celebrating. If this fact is ideally comprehended, we can avoid much of the problems we are confronted with. We have to make the world understand that this Christ whose birthday we celebrate is the sum total of history itself.
Christ’s birth was clearly foretold centuries ago prior to His birth. We cannot see such prophesies attached to the birth of Buddha, or Muhammad, or Gandhi or any other gurus of the world. Christ was not the invention of the first century; He was the fulfillment of Hebrew prophecies.
WE find more than three hundred prophecies in the Hebrew Bible regarding the person and mystery of the Messiah, the Christ. The first prophecy is contained in the 3rd chapter of the Book of Genesis, where we read : “ Thus the Lord said to the serpent, ‘… I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He will bruise your head…’” (OSB Gen. 3: 14, 15). A woman does not have a seed, and this prophesy indicates the birth of Jesus from a virgin without fertilization by the seed of a man; moreover it clearly points to the destruction of Satan by her seed, Jesus. These prophesies also declared Christ’s genealogical line from David (2 Samuel 7: 10-17, Psalms 89: 3-4, Jeremiah 23:5). Jesus met these criteria in the first chapter of the Gospels according to St. Matthew and St. Luke.
Augustus Caesar ordered that everyone had to return to the city of his ancestry and birth to be counted for taxation (Gospel According to Luke 2.1). It was this order that brought Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem where Jesus was born in a manger. This was to fulfill the prophesy made by Micah: “And you, O Bethlehem, House of Ephratah, though you are fewest in number among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to me the One to be the ruler of Israel. His goings forth were from the beginning, even from everlasting” (OSB 5:1).
The Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem. If Mary delivered Jesus in Nazareth the story of Jesus would have entirely different Look how providence guides all events for the fulfillment of Messianic prophesies!
But the Jews did not pay attention to these prophecies and rejected Jesus as the Christ or Messiah, and still wait for His coming. Our Jewish brethren, if you are still waiting for the Messiah please read Malachi chapter 3:1: “‘Behold, I send My messenger, and he will prepare the way for Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come into His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, whom you desire. Behold, He is coming’, says the Lord Almighty” (OSB). God sent his messenger to prepare His way in the person of John the Baptist. The Lord came into His temple already and he taught in