THE GIFT OF JESUS CHRIST

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Christmas is about love and sharing

In the last few weeks, Nigerians from all walks of life have been making frantic preparations for December 25. The day is here, as Christendom commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ who lived for just 33 years but impacted the lives of men and women on Earth more than all the armies and the parliaments of the world combined. We rejoice with all Christians.

The gift of Jesus brings joy and merriment. Thus, on a day such as this, many can easily be carried away by conspicuous consumption – the merriment, the drinks, the food, the parties, the items in the shops, and lots more. But Christmas is much more than this. It is beyond decorating the streets and houses with special festoons and rosettes, mending failed portions of roads, putting law enforcement officers at alert or the exchange of gifts and singing of carols. These are important but it will be tragic if they are made the focus of the celebration.

The essence of Christmas is the greatest gift to mankind – Jesus Christ, the power of the love of God. The purpose of Christmas is to share this gift of love. Indeed, Jesus after whom Christians ought to model themselves was selfless throughout his earthly sojourn. As the incarnate Love of God, he personified humility, service to others and other virtues that are in short supply in our world today. Christmas is therefore a period for many Christians to ask themselves whether they can be truly numbered among followers of Christ, based on the true desires of their hearts and the motives behind most of their actions.

Whereas it is true that Christ came because of men, and also died for the redemption of their sins, the Christian condition for salvation rests on the understanding that the Mission and the crucifixion would have been totally unnecessary if men had not sinned and gone astray in the first place. Christmas therefore gives the believer a unique opportunity to re-examine themselves. As St. Augustine explains, “Everyone can make the sign of the cross of Christ; everyone can answer Amen; everyone can sing Alleluia; everyone can have himself baptized, can enter churches, can build the walls of basilicas. But charity is the only thing by which the children of God can be differentiated from the children of the devil” and that happens to be what Christmas is all about: The unconditional love that ultimately led to the sacrifice of the cross.

To live the true essence of the season, it is important for all Nigerians to eschew hatred, rancour, greed and avarice. There is too much hatred in our society. We must build an ethic of human solidarity aimed at promoting the common good. We must think of the less fortunate and lighten their burdens. As we celebrate Christmas, we must remember those who are not fortunate enough like us in our prayers – those who are locked away in the enclave of the Boko Haram insurgents – like Leah Sharibu, the Chibok schoolgirls and many others; our brave soldiers who are committed to securing the nation in the Sahel and beyond; our men, women and children who lost their lives in preparation for the Christmas; the sick on the hospital beds, many too weak to cry; the poor who are unable to participate in the festivities because they are poor.

We should extend our prayers to all this and more because He gave us Jesus so that we might learn to love each other. As Pope Francis aptly put it, “Christmas is usually a noisy party: we could use a bit of silence, to hear the voice of love.”

To all our readers, Merry Christmas!