By Alangaram Arockiam, SJ

End inequality!: Years ago, when I was a parish priest, I visited one of the sub-stations of my parish two weeks before Christmas. The Catholics there wanted to have an urgent village meeting soon after the Mass. The bone of contention was whether or not to share the drinking water from the village well with the Dalits of the village. After a few had spoken for and against sharing water, a woman stood up and said, “If we don’t share the drinking water with the Dalits, this year Jesus will not be born in our village.” There was dead silence for a moment. Then the village leader declared that for the first time they will allow the Dalits of the village to draw water from the village well.

Christmas that year must have been unique to those people, as it indicated a change of heart and an end to discrimination. At last all in the village were children of one God.

Go to villages!: “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” This was the question posed by one of the disciples of Jesus, named Philip. Philip thought so because Nazareth was a poor, remote village.

We tend to look down on our villages, because of the conditions that prevail in villages.  Most villages have neither safe drinking water nor a decent health care centre. There are no good schools. Even if some villages have a school, they lack the basic facilities and quality education. Villages don’t offer adequate employment opportunities. This is why most villagers migrate to cities, looking for a good job or good education for their children. Gandhi once said that India lives in its villages. Even today they are the heart of India.

Christmas that year must have been unique to those people, as it indicated a change of heart and an end to discrimination. At last all in the village were children of one God.

But God ordained that Jesus should be born in a village, grow up in a village and live in a village for so many years before he begins his public ministry. This action of God tells us that we should care for our villages and help the villagers get all they need for a life of dignity. Therefore Christmas should lead every politician, every leader in politics, the society and religion, to go to villages and explore what they could do to improve the life of the villagers.

Fear not!: Before announcing the good news, the angel Gabriel told Mary not to fear. When Gabriel said she would conceive and bear a son, Mary was perplexed and confused. How could she, a virgin, become pregnant? But the angel explained to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you…” (Lk 1: 35). Having listened to the angel, Mary trusted in God.

Today, if we take a good look at our world, we cannot but be afraid. The furious floods, the wild fires that destroy humans and homes, earthquakes, tsunami, our world becoming hotter and hotter, the senseless wars, and forced migrations, make us humans confused, worried, and frightened. During such catastrophes we pray to God that God may send God’s angels who will comfort us and give us courage. Therefore this is another Christmas message we need today much more than in the past. We need to hear God’s angel tell us, “Fear not!”

Love your world to save it!: When St. Irenaeus (130-200 AD) was made the Bishop of Lyons, Gnosticism became dominant. It denied the truth of the Gospel, saying that Christ did not take a human body and did not suffer a bodily Crucifixion and Resurrection. It taught that anything connected with matter was evil and had to be hated. So the saying went: ‘Hate the body and the world’.

This is another Christmas message we need today much more than in the past. We need to hear God’s angel tell us, “Fear not!”

To fight that dangerous heresy Irenaeus developed an incarnational theology and said that God sent God’s Son who became a human person through the mystery of Incarnation. Thus, Christmas, the feast that celebrates God taking on a human body, became a powerful weapon in the hands of Irenaeus to fight Gnosticism. Christmas teaches us to love our body and the world in order to save them. Every Christmas, therefore, should remind us to love this sinful, conflict-ridden world so that we do everything we can to heal it and make it whole.

He has come looking for you!: In the world of nature ants go in search of anything that has sugar, butterflies fly in search of flowers that can provide them honey, all rivers move towards the sea and so it is only natural that humans go in search of God to receive God’s grace and love. But the birth of Jesus Christ is something truly astounding in the sense that God comes in search of us. The reverse of the ‘natural’ happened at Christmas. ‘God has come in search of humans’ is the Good News of Christmas.

We too are favoured!: God’s angel Gabriel greets this virgin in Nazareth, a village of Galilee, saying, “Greetings, O favoured One, the Lord is with you” (Lk, 1: 27 -28). She becomes the ‘favoured one’ because she would carry in her womb our savior, Jesus Christ. Today, we too deserve such a greeting. We become the favoured people, because we receive in the Eucharist what Mary received in her womb – the Son of God.

We are enabled to receive the Word made flesh by God’s mercy and forgiveness. We can imagine being greeted with the angelic words, “O, favoured ones, the Lord is with you.”

The Holy Spirit will come upon us too!: Every day during the Eucharistic celebration the priest blesses the bread and wine and prays to God the Father to send down the Holy Spirit: “Therefore, O Lord, we pray: may this same Holy Spirit graciously sanctify these offerings, that they may become the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ for the celebration of this great mystery, which he himself left us as an eternal covenant”.

The ordinary bread and wine need the Holy Spirit to be transformed into the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Similarly, we who receive Jesus in the Eucharist, need the constant action of the Holy Spirit, if we have to become like Jesus. To think like Jesus, feel like Jesus and act like Jesus we need the power of the Holy Spirit to fill us and guide us. Christmas reminds us to pray to the Father to send us his Spirit to sanctify us.

But sometimes, since we are merely sinful and weak humans, we wonder if we are worthy of the Holy Spirit. Are we really worthy of being filled by the Holy Spirit? Such thoughts and feelings fill us with fear, confusion and desolation. At such moments we need to hear the angel Gabriel say:  “For with God nothing is impossible” (Lk 1: 37). These consoling words of the angel would give us courage, confidence and clarity.

John the evangelist confirms this: “But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God.” (Jn 1: 12). If we believe in him and follow him, God will give us the power to become God’s children. Therefore the feast of Christmas comes with several messages. We need to recognize them, and ponder over at least some of them.

Fr. Alangaram Arockiam, SJ, (CEN) who did his doctorate in Theology in Innsbruk, Austria, has been a pastor, professor of theology and formator. He can be contacted at