My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I feel honored to have the opportunity to write to you about my thoughts on what Christmas means to us.
2020 has been an unusual year and a year of great change. The pandemic that has been raging around the world for the past several months has transformed the way we live and work in a fundamental way. It has been many different things to many people. It has caused tremendous despair in the lives of those negatively impacted by it through the loss of work, the loss of social life and sickness. Some of us have lost loved ones either to this pandemic or because of the lack of access to prompt medical care. The pandemic has not entirely been a bad thing though. Families are closer to each other as the isolation requires most of us to work from home. Parents engage more with their children now than ever before. It has caused a reduction in pollution through stay-at-home orders and has benefited the climate. It has led to structural changes in the way we live our lives. Schools, companies, hospitals, and other institutions that have found ways to be productive while being remote, are starting to make some of these changes permanent. The pandemic has also led to tremendous innovation, the best example of which, is the record pace with which we managed to come up with a vaccine for the Covid-19 virus.
Change is not easy to deal with. It is a disruption in the way we are used to doing something. It requires that we get out of our comfort zone and do what is necessary to adapt to the change. It is hard. It requires us to make sacrifices and is sometimes painful. The fact that we are still here and that we are continuing to do the things that we do, is a testament to the fact that all of us have the will and the power to change. We have shown that if needed, we can rise above any artificial limits that we have sub-consciously set on our abilities and do much more as individuals, as a community, as a nation and as a civilization. If a year back, you were asked whether you would be able to live through this sort of radical change, your answer would probably have been no and perhaps you would have said that this change could be devastating. Yet, we are all here, we have lived through this, we have survived. There is a hidden power in us that we sometimes fail to recognize and it is this strength that has helped us overcome and do what we may not have thought possible. It is important that we understand this because this means that any limitations we have set on our ourselves is artificial and meaningless. It is just a creation of our mind, which is limited by the historical baggage of experiences that we have accumulated over the years. What we are truly capable of us is much more.
Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ. His message of love as the only way for us to reach God is absolute. Christ came into this world to change and transform the world into one based on love. To live a life that is based on love however, is not easy. The first step is to understand what love means and unfortunately that in itself is really hard. The word ‘love’ has been overused so much that it may have lost its meaning. We use it quite casually to refer to how we feel about things and the people around us. If we feel really good about something or someone in the present moment, we say that we love them or that we love it. That of course, is not the love that Christ meant us to have.
Love is fundamental. It is spiritual. It is being one with everyone and everything around you. When there is no difference between you and everything else around you, you are truly in love. When you are in love, hate has no place. Who is there to hate, when there is no one else but you? Who is there to disrespect, when there is no one else but you? Love is powerful. Once you are in a state of love, evil has lost its power over you. Evil preys on division but with the unity that love provides, it has no place. This is the message of love that Christ preached to the world and this is the reason there were just one commandment that Christ gave the world – the commandment to love – love one another and to love God.
To truly love however, is hard. It calls us to change how we live our lives. It requires us to start living for each other, rather than for us alone. It requires us to have more patience and to tolerate more. It requires sacrifice, to give up that we may like in order to make the world a bit more comfortable for those around us. It requires us to understand others better, to listen more, to spend more time with others and to share in their joys and sorrows. It requires us to lend a helping hand to those around us when they are in need. It requires us to question the injustice around us and act to promote a more just world. It requires us to look at one another as if they were you, to look at the world through their eyes, and to experience what they feel, so we truly understand them. It requires us to reflect on our actions each day, to be honest, truthful and compassionate. Just doing these things is an act of love, and they bring us closer to the state of love that Christ wanted us to experience.
I was hoping that this Christmas, we could reflect on our potential for change and the message and meaning of Christ’s love for us. We have shown that we have the power to go beyond what we thought was possible and do hard things. Can we once again use this power to transform our lives? Can we more fully embrace Christ’s message of love and being in the state of love that he wants us to be in? A state where only good prevails and evil has lost it’s power of you.