The Christmas Season is upon us - the sacred time when we recall the incredible, magnificent, stupendous, overflowing and unconditional love of God who “so loved the world that He gave his only Son, so that all of us may be saved, experience and enjoy the fullness of life in Him” (Jn 3: 16).
The Word of God was made flesh and dwelt among us, all the promises of God were fulfilled once and for all, the Son of God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity became One of us so that we may be given a share in the Divine Family of God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. I wonder if our minds can truly understand the sheer depth of this wonderful mystery of the Incarnation which has transformed our whole life forever?
St Francis of Assisi was always mesmerized with wonder to contemplate true God and true Man in the Little Child of Bethlehem. The utter poverty of the Son of God moved him to tears of love and joy! He saw the epitome of this on the crucifixion and he coined the image of Christ “poor and crucified”. He desired to embrace in his life the poverty and the passion of Christ. He was granted this ‘grace’ in his lifetime.
The reflection called ‘One Solitary Life’ captures the meaning of Christmas perfectly:
“Here is Jesus, the Son of God - a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another village. He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty. Then for three years, He was an itinerant preacher. He never owned a home. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family of his own. He never went to college. He never put His foot inside a big city. He never travelled two hundred miles from the place He was born. He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness.
He had no credentials but Himself...
While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. One of them denied Him. He was turned over to His enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed upon a cross between two thieves. While He was dying His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth – His coat. When He was dead, He was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.
Twenty long centuries have come and gone, and today He is a centrepiece of the human race and leader of the column of progress.
I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that were ever built; all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of all humanity upon this earth as powerfully as has that one solitary life”.
(Adapted from a sermon by Dr. James Allan Francis).
Christmas is the time of introspection, prayerful reflection, generosity, gratitude, joyful celebration and making tangible this stupendous love of God by sharing ourselves, our quality time and resources with all our needy brothers and sisters.
I wish each and every one of you restful, refreshing, fulfilling and enriching Christmas celebration with all your immediate family, relatives, friends and all your loved ones. Merry Christmas!
Yours in Christ
Bishop Vincent Mduduzi Zungu OFM
Mary is honoured as the Chief Patron of our Diocese of Port Elizabeth. In accordance with the official liturgical Pastoral Guide it is therefore elevated to a solemnity (big feast) for the local church and celebrated on the Sunday that occurs on 4th February or between the 4th and 10th February each year.