By Henrylito D. Tacio
A little boy returned from Sunday school with a new perspective on the Christmas story. He had learned all about the wise men from the East who brought gifts to the baby Jesus. He was so excited he just had to tell his friends. This is how he told it:
“I learned in Sunday school today all about the very first Christmas. You see, there wasn’t a Santa way back then, so these three skinny guys on camels had to deliver all the toys! And Rudolph the reindeer with his nose so bright wasn’t there yet, so they had to have this big spotlight in the sky to find their way around.”
“What is the essence of Christmas?” If I have to ask you this question, what would be your answer? What is the real meaning of Christmas to you personally? Is it the gifts you will receive from your friends and the company you are working for? Is it the thirteenth month pay? Is it the various parties you will be attending soon? Or is it the fun of going around and shopping?
Before answering those questions, allow me to share this anecdote first, which happened in the United States. A military expert was asked to deliver a speech in St. Louis, Missouri. It was during World War II, and he had a difficult time getting a seat on the plane. However, he secured it and departed from his hometown in Boston. En route, he was “bumped” in Washington, D.C., by an army general who had top priority. Disgruntled and frustrated, the lecturer sat and cooled his heels while his plane left for Missouri.
His disappointment was nothing, however, compared to the general’s disgust when he arrived in St. Louis only to discover that the speaker had to cancel out. The general’s dismay was complete when he realized that the speaker was the man whose plane seat he had preempted in Washington!
The story points up an interesting question for the approaching Christmas season: Are our presents to one another crowding out His presence in our midst? What is our top priority this Christmas?
Most of us know that Christ was not born on December 25. But it doesn’t matter. What is real is that the Almighty came into this world, He became a Man, and He died for our sins so that we will be with Him in heaven.
That is what the Holy Scriptures are all about. “The whole Bible is built around the story of Christ and His promise of life everlasting to men. It was written only that we might believe and understand, know and love, and follow Him,” wrote Henrietta C. Mears in her book, What the Bible is All About.
The doctor walked out of the delivery room and approached an anxious father. He told him, “I am sorry to inform you but your baby lived only two hours after his birth, though we did everything we could to save his life.”
As the sympathetic doctor was about to leave, the quick-thinking father said, “I read only recently that human eyes are needed in corneal operations. Could my baby’s eyes be used to enable someone to see again?”
The next day, the Red Cross carried an eye to two different hospitals. In one, a corneal graft restored the sight of a working man with a large family. In the other, sight was given to a mother.
More than two thousand years ago, a baby came into our sin-blinded world to give spiritual sight to all who will receive it without money and without price. “The people who walked in darkness, saw a great light” (Isaiah 9:1).
“We may not be able to do any great thing; but if each of us will do something, however small it may be, a good deal will be accomplished for God,” D. L. Moody once pointed out.
If we compared Jesus to some of us, He may not come to anything. But He had done more wonderful things than all of us combined. An unknown author penned something about Christ in these simple words: “He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in still another village, where he worked in a carpenter shop until he was thirty. Then for three years, he was an itinerant preacher.
“He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family or owned a house. He didn’t go to college. He never traveled 200 miles from the place where he was born. He did none of these things one usually associates with greatness. He had no credentials but himself. He was only 33 when public opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. He was turned over to his enemies and went through the mockery of a trial.
“He was nailed to a cross between two thieves. When he was dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing, the only property he had on earth. When he was dead, he was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.”
Several centuries have come and gone, and today Jesus is the central figure of the human race, the leader of mankind’s progress. Ian McCrae declares: “Many who saw a Man hanging on a cross more than 2,000 years ago thought: ‘The Christian religion is dissolved.’ But it was not so. It is true now as it was then. The end is the beginning.”
As we wait for the coming of Christ’s natal day, let this prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi be a reminder: “Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is despair, hope. Where there is sadness, joy. Where there is darkness, light.
“O Divine Master, grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console; not so much to be loved, as to love. For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.”