Suppose it your birthday, and a group of friends arrive at your house to celebrate, all bearing gifts. At the appointed time, everyone gathers in a small circle. Soon afterward, the gift exchange commences. However, you immediately notice something strange and perplexing. And that is, instead of giving you the gifts, your friends are busy exchanging gifts with each other and completely ignoring your presence! All the while leaving you emptyhanded. Meanwhile, there is merriment, endless chatter, and satisfaction among them. Conversations abound about how much they mean to each other, and how glad they are to have each other in their lives; all the while hardly even mentioning or celebrating you. So, you are basically invisible and, based on their expressed actions, must conclude that these people merely used your birthday to gather, pleasure, and celebrate themselves. How then can these selfish and inconsiderate one’s be classified as “friends”?
How we human beings stand in relation to the Creator is how these celebrants selfishly stand in relation to their friend.
From on High, it is observed how every Christmas season man gathers only to pleasure and enjoy himself; or at most those he deems “loved ones”. Singing festive songs, spending huge sums of money, and expending significant energy in order to make himself and those around him feel gratified and comfortable. But if you keenly assess matters, you will realize that man does not spend even 1% of the energy seeking the true recognition and meaning behind the birth and Mission of this Divine Envoy as he does on pursuing purely earthly indulgences; not to talk of even rededicating his life according to the principles brought through this Heavenly Messenger. No, all this is too far-flung for humanity today, for he prefers to distract and busy himself with endless pleasures under the delusion that, by so enjoying himself, he is also satisfying his obligations towards this Holy Season.
Man does not even bother to question the necessity and origin of this commercial gift-giving frenzy that dominates the Season, perhaps partly out of fear that the answer might expose a guilty conscience that would require a change in lifestyle. Consider the three kings! When they gathered, they did not even exchange gifts with each other…but gave gifts to the newborn Messiah. Even from a historical basis, our traditions contradict the original happening.
We should be natural and not swing to the other extreme in these matters. Sure man can help and give gifts to others if inwardly moved, and if these gifts are a collateral of the upward orientation of gratitude. But when/if giving gifts, the gifts should harmonize and be in furtherance of the Mission of the Divine Envoy. Even in a purely earthly sense, imagine if a child suddenly dies whose passion was feeding the poor and if, on the date of their birth, an organization is established on their behalf. Now, on the annual anniversary of this child’s birth, should the activities and gifts of this organization not accord with the original passion of the deceased child…in whose honor the entire organization is intended? When we apply this analogy to our orientation toward gift-giving during Christmas, then it stands to reason that the entire motive, attitude, and form of any gift-giving needs to naturally undergo a complete transformation.
Imagine a group of people are prisoners of war, doomed to death, and helpless to save themselves. Suddenly a foreign military comes to intervene and rescue, saving them from the inevitable. Now imagine if, on the annual celebration of their rescue, the former prisoners-of-war always gather to celebrate and give each other gifts; all the while almost completely ignoring the foreign forces who intervened on their behalf, without which they would have perished. The meaning behind their celebration of each other does not change how strange and even inconsiderate this tradition is, in view of the immense sacrifice. Consider that the other prisoners they are celebrating were/are helpless and powerless to save them at their moment of need. They are putting someone on a pedestal who, like themselves, lacked the victorious military might to liberate them; and who, should they be captured again, would again be powerless to intervene!
In this light, should we recognize anyone through acts of benevolence, then the muted expression should be because they have brought us closer to harmonizing our lives with the Message of the Messiah. But they should never inwardly take the first place of our attention and energy.
Consequently, everything and everyone else this Season should only be a distant second. But the primary focus, effort, and gratitude should be directed toward the Rescuer, the Messiah…Jesus the Christ. But above this even, the purest thanksgiving of joy and gratitude this Season should ascend from the human spirit on earth to the Feet of the Sender of this Messiah and Rescuer, to the Source of all Life:
God the Father!
~Ikenna Q. Ezealah