Amid the continuous threat of COVID-19 in our lives, we have to cling to the clusters of hope hanging before us and we have to find ways to make our faith as the strongest elixir of spiritual endurance especially in the celebration of Christmas 2020.
What makes Christmas 2020 too different from last year; and probably next 2021. Are we ready to embrace the viral changes of the family and friend reunion as we celebrate the Birth of Lord Jesus? As a part of our inquisitiveness, do we have still a time to feel the pure joy of Christmas?
Christmas 2020 is facing the many challenges on how to enjoy the pure joy of celebration. And the emerging changes will disrupt the usual family gatherings due to the health protocols imposed by the provincial medical officers to avoid the spread of this pandemic. Gone are the nights of family gathering with relatives and friends gather to enjoy the food and drinks, gift sharing, singing and dancing: the festive narrative of family togetherness.
With this strict adherence on prevention of the spread of COVID-19, do we have time to find the pure joy of Christmas? Do we have time to savour not only the fleeting happiness but also the joy of the Birth of Lord Jesus Christ.
In the Third Advent celebrated in the Christian world, pure joy of Christmas is totally felt as we welcome the prophesy of St. John the Baptist the coming of Messiah. And when we celebrate our Christmas by yourself, or by a few members of the family, a far cry of the last year’s celebration, it seems that hope if fleeting, like happiness will not be felt because the absence of the parents, or the siblings are celebrating with their own family; or your best friends are not present to exchange gifts, smiles, laughs and hugs? Or your grandchildren who give so much joy as they smile with sweet innocence.
The birth of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, the very centre of the Christmas celebration when pure joy is strengthened as Fr. Tommy Lane had said in his homily: “When our hopes are dashed, let us turn to Jesus. He is the answer to all our hopes and dreams. He will not let us down.”
And as we celebrated Christmas 2020 in the very confine our own home sans the warmth of the big crowd, the sweetness of the smiles and the tenderness of countless and endless Christmas greetings, we can still engage the pure joy as we celebrate the Birth of Christ for joy is embedded into our lives: the flaming love for parents and the siblings; the unconditional love between husband and wife; the sweet smile of innocence of the child; the arrays of food and drinks to share.
There are many joys in our lives, embedded into our own being, and normally, we do miss to enjoy its meaning. Most of the time we just feel the fleeting happiness which is temporary, just receiving a gift from your loved ones. You are happy but then, happiness dies down. But joy is impossible to define but it can be told by action, by deeds and by our body language. Joy is the soul of happiness, as one writer wrote with passion the meaning of joy.
And many sages, historical figures, writers, even ordinary people find joy as they live life to the fullest. And I found my pure joy when Helen Keller writes: “Joy is the holy fire that keeps our purpose warm and our intelligence aglow.” Added to this is what Mother Teresa says: “Joy is prayer, Joy is strength, Joy is love. Joy is a net of love by which you catch the soul.” And Oscar Wilde flashes his joy on what he writes: “A flower blossoms for its own joy.” Yes, we are born for our own joy but not to worry if we are not admired, we are not recognized for what we have doing with others for our birth has a purpose.
And world today has the shades of grey hovering in our horizon, that the people are becoming the hostages of many troubles but Joseph Campbell gives us his wide perspective: “We cannot cure the world of sorrows but we can choose to live in joy.” And this gives us self-fulfillment when Buddha says: “When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” Yes, Joy is enshrined in us, embedded into our psyche. As what Carlos Santana says: “If you carry joy in your heart, you can heal any moment.” And remember what Khalil Gibran writes: “There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward.”
And as for me: “Joy is the language of the heart; the breathe of our soul.”
And as we celebrated Christmas 2020 in our own way, pure joy is the Birth of our Lord Jesus, the Messiah.