Aired on December 20, 2010
Narration by Baben Grace Lumapas
Why All We Truly Want is Christmas?
It was an extraordinary birth. The angels sang, it is said. A star appeared and lit the earth. Magi from the East trotted on their camels in the sharp wind and chill of the desert to follow the star.
But it was also an ordinary birth. The cosmos may have danced, but the innkeeper who had rented out the stable had no idea that the baby born on the manger may have been something else than the son of a carpenter. The shepherds who had come and crowded round the stable must have blinked and rubbed their eyes.
It must have been difficult to take it all in. The promised Saviour of Israel – long hoped for – was astonishingly like any other child. A tiny, fragile heap of newborn life wriggling on the hay.
It was as the angel had told them. A baby wrapped in cloths was lying in a feeding trough. So the earthy shepherds, used to grime and animal smells, simply marveled and worshiped.
But it was not so for many in Israel. The people went about their business unheeding, unaware that something great and wonderful had happened. Except for Simeon and the prophet Anna, godly elderly people who had waited so long for the ‘consolation of Israel.’ When they saw the child, they recognized him for what he was – the fulfillment of the promise that the nation would be saved and the peoples who sat in darkness shall see a great light.
Simeon took the child in his arms and thanked God that he had seen with his own eyes the salvation that God has prepared for all peoples. Anna likewise thanked God and spoke about the child to all who were waiting for God to set Jerusalem free.
It took unusual eyes to see in the Christ-Child the fulfillment for which all that Israel was longing for. While his father Joseph was of the royal house of David, it was a lineage that had long decayed. And anyway, who would have thought that the God of the universe would come to earth through the ordinary process of birthing?
He who had made the world had packed himself into a strip of tissue, ensconced in the mortal womb of a virgin. When he leapt out of its soft, watery warmth, he had cried out in the night. Yet we are told that through this child, God had come to earth to meet us in our need.
The Jews had trouble believing. For centuries they longed for the Messiah. Yet when he came they had no eyes to see him.
Often, we have no eyes for the things for which we long and pray. We long for that one break, that decisive turn in our lives and in our fortunes. Yet, when God answers, our eyes are usually turned elsewhere. The answer may just be there, staring us in the face like an unwanted gift. But unlike Simeon and Anna, we lack the insight to recognize what God has already given to us.
This Christmas, may we recognize how precious the gift of the Christ-Child is, he whose birth 2,000 years ago is the reason all we truly want is Christmas.
Written by Melba Padilla Maggay. Dr. Maggay is the president of ISACC.