A paradoxical Christmas Luke 2:1-14
By Fr Gabriel Julien
As we celebrate Christmas Day, the gospel according to Luke 2:10 mentions that: “I am bringing you good news of great joy”. As we reflect and ponder over the year, perhaps there are very few reasons for us to fully appreciate this “good news of great joy”. We live in a society where violence of all types increases at an alarming rate and we confess it frightens and scares us to such an extent that we could easily forget that Christmas is a time to truly celebrate the “good news of great joy”.
On one hand we really want to be totally involved in the joy and happiness of Christmas; on the other hand, the constant burdens and negativisms seem to deprive us of this coveted joy.
How do we live this paradox? How do we escape this vicious circle?
From the outset, it is important to note that the answers are quite complex. Although life is difficult, burdensome and seems to be meaningless, we are still called to experience the “good news of great joy”.
According to the Oxford dictionary, the definition of the word paradox is a seemingly contradictory statement or proposition which, when investigated, may prove to be well founded or true.
However, as Catholics, we firmly believe in the words of sacred scripture especially Luke who teaches that Christmas is basically concerned about experiencing this “good news of great joy”. It is also instructive to note that sacred scripture also contains many paradoxes.
Therefore, it is imperative that we try to comprehend these statements within their particular context.
In Matthew 5:6, Jesus states: “Blessed are those who hunger”, but in John 6:35, He rightly claims: “No one who comes to me will ever be hungry”. As we try to appreciate this “good news of great joy”, how are we to process it with our current state of life? Must we hunger and thirst in the present life? In what ways are we going to be satisfied and have rest in God?
As noted, before, the answers are not so simple, but it is obvious that we are compelled to live this paradox.
In Matthew 11:29, Jesus insists that we: “Take up my yoke and learn from me”, but in Galatians 5:1, we read: “Don’t submit again to a yoke”. As we continue our reflection, we ought to ask ourselves, how does the yoke of Christ differ from that of the law? How can we practically live under constant oppression and violence while simultaneously experience the joy and bliss that Christmas brings?
Matthew 11:30 provides a possible answer: “My yoke is easy”. Trying to comprehend some of the numerous paradoxes of scripture could prove to be a daunting exercise. However, we take comfort and solace from the Master.
In the wilderness, a proper understanding of biblical paradoxes equips one to counter the enemy’s twisting of scripture with the informed reply: “It is also written…” (Matt 4:7). Thus, it is explicit to add that without paradoxes, there is no genuine test of the Christian life. Remember that God does not perceive life the way we do.
He declares in Isaiah 55:8 that: “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”
This Christmas, as we renew our faith in God, let us make the effort to view things through His eyes, that is, from God’s perspective. Then and only then would we surely comprehend that some paradoxes which appear to be contradictory are true.
One such truth is Christmas brings us “good news of great joy” and it is our responsibility to experience it even in the midst of pain and sorrow.
The gospel meditations for December are by Fr Gabriel Julien, a diocesan priest.