Luke 2:10: And the Angel said unto them “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great Joy, which shall be to all people.
Another Season of Christmas is fast approaching along with all the rigmaroles of the season: frenzied shopping, gift wrapping, guest listing and the anxiety to get the season completed without regret and remorse.
This Season is anxiously awaited by the whole country to check the telltale signs of economic recovery and to usher in the next economic expansion.
The few days after Thanksgiving till Christmas marks the shopping season for the whole year when most merchandise is purchased, consumed and discarded. The aftermath of the season is most often: increased debt and doubt about the declining relationship with kith and kin resulting in decreased mental health. To most people the season is a nightmare to begin with and a perennial problem that cannot be unburdened. Why Such desperation and frustration over the birth of Jesus- heralded by Angles to Mary, then to Joseph and to the shepherds- as “good tidings of great Joy” to all the people of the world? How this epoch making event-much awaited, prophesized-descend into this current state of decay? A brief look into this event is much warranted and merits attention at this season when millions of people in this affluent society- often proclaimed as the greatest ever in the history of mankind-goes hungry and penniless gnawing at the fabric of the society? Where is the notion of the savior when every greenback loudly proclaims the motto “in God we trust” and rejoices at the marvel of its currency and savors the goods and services it offers while paying mere lip service to the almighty savior.
A historical perspective of Christmas is well neigh impossible and mostly fraught with imperfections or inconsistencies as the bible offers no such clue to the celebration. The Christians themselves celebrate this Holy day in two different months- December and January- establishing the fact that the date was set later by decree rather than history. Early Mesopotamians-two thousand years before Christ- had celebrations to welcome the winter Solstice. The Scandinavians celebrated winter solstice in the month of December to usher in the ‘dawn of light’ in their life after months of darkness. The Birth of Jesus was celebrated in the Christian conclaves since 98 A.D. The Bishop of Rome, in 157 A.D celebrated the birth of Christ and in 380 A.D. the Bishop Julius Chose December 25th as the day of “cristes maesse’-Christ’s Mass which became Christmas.
The Birth of Jesus as the savior-savior for all mankind-not for Jews alone was well narrated in the Bible starting with Genesis. Genesis 49: 10: The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be. The deathbed scenario of Jacob prophesizing the Kingdom of God- Sceptre appearing in Judea in the House of Judah-son of Jacob is worth mentioning. Numbers 24:17; I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth. The Books of prophets are mired in the prophecies of the birth of the savior that gave a messianic fervor to the Jews and to surpass and surmount every persecution and subjugation with longing and hope. Numbers 18;8 I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. Prophet Isaiah “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us- narrates the birth of Jesus in such exacting detail. All prophetic books offer similar visions of the savior-savior for the whole mankind.
Matthew 1;21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. The Name Jesus is Greek for the Hebrew name “Joshua’ or Jeshua a name first appears in Numbers 13;16; These are the names of the men which Moses sent to spy out the land. And Moses called Oshea the son of Nun Jehoshua. Moses thus changes the name of Hosea to Joshua. The name Joshua is a compilation of two names- YHWH- Jehovah and Hebrew ‘ Yesha’ meaning saved or delivered. In another form it is ‘to cry for help”. So the name Joshua means “ Jehovah is help” “or the deliverer or the savior. By a simple act of changing name Moses changed the Mosaic laws-ten commandments- to the law of Joshua- the law of Love offered for their salvation from privations, deprivations and destruction.
The angels appeared to Zacharias- the father of John the Baptist and delivered the message which he was seeking for ages Luke 1’13, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. Zacharias was doubtful and questioned the word of the Almighty-a priest inside the sanctum sanctorum- gave a penalty as he was ‘dumbfounded’ by the news became dumb for the entire period of Elisabeth’s pregnancy. A message that is worth pondering- who carry the holy vest of God and adorn the vestibule of the almighty God. The Angelic message again offers the same message to Mary, Luke 1:30; And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God. In announcing the birth of savior to the shepherds Luke 2;10; And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. In these three angelic messages “Fear Not” is the theme. The nation of Israel was subjugated by foreign rule and lived in fear- a nation in fear. The fear was palpable; the yoke that subjugated the body doused the inner spirit and spread doom and gloom. Hope and salvation was anathema to the people- the people in darkness. They saw the light- the message of peace.
The current state of gloom and the prevailing notion of a country in decline sow seeds of discontent that permeates every fabric of the society. The people are looking for sign-any sign of hope- in a society where self-rules and trumps kindness and brotherhood. The Christmas season thus brings false joy by means of amassing materials – objects of desire. Consumerisms replaces Christianity as the new religion and greed its new currency. Objectification and fixation on materials of wealth has brought the faithful and the not so faithful to question the shifting paradigms of worship that accommodates the demands of the wealthy in ever increasing measure. Money is the new deity replacing Christ the savior from the manger of love- a Love that transcends time and proclaims the innocence of Child as the harbinger of a new dawn. The dawn that ushers in the rays of hope-the good tiding of Joy- that can dispel the darkness from the lives of humanity and bring eternal peace. The shopping frenzy boosts up dopamine levels and provide a heightened sense of joy- a joy that wears away easily and often seeks for more and more. Thus this perpetual need for boosting the self-image is an addiction that affects the same part of the brain as in any other addiction. This culture of replacing the baby Jesus, born in a manger, covered in swaddling clothes, and witnessed by the shepherds and the sheep and adored by the angels is the theme of Christmas. “Fear Not” as the message delivered by the Angel to the world in darkness- the Angelic herald is the same message that must transcend our hearts to receive the sheer simple pure and everlasting Joy of Christmas -that is the Angelic Herald for this nation in darkness.