IF you ask people what Christmas is all about you will be amazed the kind of respond you will get. The way people celebrate Christmas says a lot about their understanding of Christmas. For the secular world Christmas is all about decoration, merry making and travelling. Almost all the streets and offices are decorated with Christmas lights, flowers and trees. Even the politicians have started lighting their Christmas trees. Most groups in the Church and even the secular society celebrate the Christmas carol with nine lessons. For children and most women Christmas is a time to change fashion. Most Christians often limit Christmas to the celebration of the Birth of Jesus Christ in a manger. This reflection, I hope, will surely broaden your understanding of Christmas.
CHRISTMAS IS THE CELEBRATION OF GOD’S LOVE: Jesus Christ is the beloved Son of God. When God wanted to express his love for mankind He gave his only beloved Son. According to St. John the Evangelist, “God so loved the world that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Christmas is not just the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ; essentially it is the celebration of God’s love.
God the Father is the center of Christmas celebration. He was the One that made a promise through the Prophets that “Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). He was the One that sent his angel to Mary to announce to her that she will conceive and give birth to a Son whom she will name Jesus (Luke 1:26-31). Even when Joseph wanted to divorce Mary secretly He was the One that met him in a dream and told him not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife “for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:20). At Christmas, therefore, we are celebrating the fulfillment of God’s promise. We are celebrating God’s self-giving love.
CHRISTMAS IS THE BIRTH OF EMMANUEL: One important thing that distinguishes the Christians from other world religions is the mystery of Incarnation. For most religions it is unimaginable for God, the Creator of heaven and earth, to become one like us. The Scripture states clearly, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel, which means GOD WITH US (Matthew 1:22-23). Jesus Christ is not just the son of Joseph or Mary; He is the Son of God. He is God. And in fact He is not an isolated god; but God with us.
The writer of the book of Deuteronomy raised an important question: “For what great nation has a god so near to them as the Lord our God is, whenever we are turned to him in prayer?” (Deuteronomy 4:7). The Christian God is not just close to his people, He has become one like His people. He became Man and He dwelt among men (John 1:14). He was born in a poor manger; so as to identify with the poor ones. He ate with men (Luke 15:1-2) and He suffered with men. He identified with every human situation, except sin. Christmas, therefore, is a time to celebrate Emmanuel, the God who humbled himself and became one like us.
CHRISTMAS IS THE CELEBRATION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, THE SPOUSE OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY: Christmas is not just the celebration of what happened  in the poor manger, it is also the celebration of the Holy Spirit and the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of Mary. When Mary wanted to know how possible it would be for her to give birth to a Son without a human husband, the angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you” (Matthew 1:35). The Holy Spirit is the spouse of Mary.
The Holy Spirit was the One that made it possible for a virgin to conceive without a husband. This is one of the greatest mysteries in the history of humanity. It is a mystery that is beyond the law of nature and biology. This mystery was made possible because the Holy Spirit was involved. The angel even told Joseph, not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit played an important role in the birth of Christ and so must be celebrated at Christmas.
CHRISTMAS IS A TIME TO CELEBRATE MARY, THE GREAT MOTHER OF GOD: At Christmas we are equally celebrating the woman whom God used as a vessel to enter into our world. St. Paul wrote in his letter to the Galatians, “When the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman” (Galatians 4:4). God did not send his Son through an angel or spirit beings. He sent His Son through a woman. The woman in question is the most favoured woman on earth.
Angel Gabriel greeted Mary, saying, “Hail, O favoured one, the Lord is with you!” (Luke 1:28). She was still wondering what sort of greeting this might be when the angel added “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. Behold, you will conceive in your  womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus (Luke 1:30). This is the highest honour and the greatest favour a woman can attain. Imagine, what it means to be the mother of an ordinary president of a nation, how much more the Mother of the Universal King, the mother of our Messiah.
No wonder when Mary visited Elizabeth, she was so excited. She exclaimed, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:42-45). Elizabeth was the first to acknowledge Jesus as Lord. She was also the first woman to declare Mary Blessed among women. For her, Mary remains the Universal First Lady – she is the most favoured woman on earth. Christmas is a time to celebrate this great woman and all the women that has given birth to great men and women like you.
CHRISTMAS IS THE CELEBRATION OF OUR UNIVERSAL KING: Jesus was not just an ordinary child. He was a destined Child. He was born to rule. When the angel Gabriel announced his birth, he told Mary, “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a Son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to Him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever” (Luke 1:31-33). The kingship of our Lord Jesus Christ was not by chance. God had already ordained it that Jesus Christ will inherit the throne of his Father David.
After the birth of Christ, three wise men came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? (Matthew 2:2) The three wise men were not just looking for the son of a carpenter; they were rather looking for the King of the Jews. How did they know that a tiny child like that was destined to be king? They said, with authority, “We have seen his star in the East, and have come to worship him” (Matthew 2:2). Imagine, as soon as Jesus was born, people started worshiping him. They were not just worshiping him as an ordinary king. They worshipped him as God.
CHRISTMAS IS ALL ABOUT SHARING: At Christmas God shared his only begotten Son with the world (John 3:16). Mary shared her testimony with Elizabeth (Luke 1:39-56). As soon as Jesus was born the angels rejoiced and praised God for what He has done for mankind: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased” (Luke 2:14). The Shepherds who were in the same region where Jesus was born came and celebrated with Mary and Joseph (Luke 2:8-20). Three wise men came all the way from East to celebrate the new born king. They offered him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh (Matthew 2:1-11).
Sharing is the essence of Christmas. The more you give out the more you will receive. You have to share what you have especially with the less privileged around you. You can share your food, your money and even your prayer precious time. Visit the sick, the prisoners, the orphans, the widows, the handicapped and the refugees. Visit those who are displaced due to insurgencies.   As you do so, God will richly bless you and it shall be well with you, in Jesus name – Amen!