Bishop of Roseau Gabriel Malzaire

What will we bring to the Christ-Child?

Christmas is often seen as a time for “giving” and “receiving”, resulting in the notion of gift-exchange, as we know it. However, in the minds of many, the aspect of “receiving” takes greater prominence. The reason for this, it seems, is that our collective psyche has been formed that way. From very early, the child learns to expect gifts at Christmas time. Only later in life does the dimension of “giving” comes into play. It seems quite easy to rationalize that reasoning since children, by virtue of their limited capabilities, are easily understood to be at the receiving end of the gift-giving.

However, it is hoped that as one matures in Christian/human consciousness, imbibing the true purpose of the nativity of Christ, we will be able to reflect in our liturgy and social interactions, a more wholesome understanding of the reason for His coming into the world. The story of Christmas, as we know, has to do with the fact that God in his love and mercy, sent his Son, Jesus, as an absolutely free gift to make salvation possible for humanity. In his letter to the Romans, Paul affirms that truth when he says: “but what proves that God loves us is that Christ died for us while we were still sinners” (Rom 5:8). The absolute giftedness of God is always meant to be a model for us humans. Therefore, Christmas is meant to the model par excellence, of the human disposition towards life.

It is well to know that, historically, the gift-giving associated with Christmas, has its origin in the visit of the Magi, i.e. the three wise men from the East who visited Jesus bringing Him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. That gesture was a response to the understanding that this Epiphany was the revelation of God’s utter giftedness to the world in the person of the Christ-Child.

In the light of all that God has done for us, the question which inevitably presents itself to every Christian, to every person of good will, is: what will we bring to the Christ-Child? It is another way of asking, what will we contribute to the advancement of humanity, to nation building, to the growth of families and homes, and, consequently, to our personal advancement. I believe that adopting a Christo-centric or Christmas-centered/ Christ-centered disposition can be the answer to the many challenges and problems which plague today.

Christmas illustrates the manner which God chose to cut human selfishness, which is so prevalent in the modern culture. It demonstrates what is necessary for integral human advancement in the here and now. And, I dare say, any lack thereof represents the fact that we have not sufficiently adopted the Christmas disposition. I often question why our Church and society are so wanting of committed volunteers and workers, of ministers and financial resources, etc., when her membership is so gifted with time, talent and treasure. It was the saintly man Mahatma Gandhi who said: “There is sufficient food in the world to satisfy human need, but there is not enough to satisfy human greed”; hence the reality of rampant poverty and starvation in the world.

The entire ministry of Jesus was a prolonged teaching on the theology of Christmas—the theology of giving. To the Greeks who wanted to see him, Jesus said: “I tell you, most solemnly, unless a wheat grain falls on the ground and dies, it remains only a single grain; but if it dies it yields a rich harvest” (Jn 12:23-24). Giving of self always has a multiplying effect. This is further emphasized in Luke 6:38 where Jesus says: “Give, and there will be gifts for you: a full measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap; because the amount you measure out is the amount you will be given back.”

I am convinced that a Christmas attitude towards life is the answer to all the challenges we encounter in both Church and society. Christmas is vocation, Christmas is mission, Christmas is salvation. At Christmas, God has given completely in order to teach us how to give.

At this time of year, therefore, let us thank God for all he has given us, including those among us who serve our Church and country, to engender moral, spiritual and social development: our civil and religious leaders, our civil servants and private sector workers, farmers and fisher folk, educators and all others.

May the Christ-Child find a ready home in each of our hearts as we seek the appropriate response to his question: What will you bring to the Christ-Child?

Merry Christmas to you and your family