Christmas is in the air. At Orchard Road and elsewhere, the malls and shopping centres are decorated and sales promoted. Restaurants offer gourmet meals. It is nice to have beautiful decorations, new apparels and good food, but all these things project an individualistic, secularised and materialistic celebration. There is no focus on the true spirit of Christmas - the spirit of GIVING rather than receiving.
There is a story of a young married couple who were very much in love. Christmas was approaching and they wanted very much to give a present to one another. But they were very poor and had no money to buy presents. So each one without telling the other decided to sell his or her most precious possession.
The girl prized above all her long golden hair. She went to a hairdresser and had it cut off and sold it to buy a lovely watch chain for her husband's watch. He in the meantime went and sold his watch to buy a beautiful ivory comb for his beloved's hair.
On Christmas they exchanged their gifts. At first they cried, then they laughed. There was no watch for the watch chain, no hair for the comb!
But there was something more precious and that was the idea behind their gifts. Each had deprived self of the best to give the other.
This story reflects the meaning of Christmas. God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son and Jesus loves us so much that he became one of us in all things but sin in order to redeem us from our sins.
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At Christmas we celebrate God's gift to us and our hearts are filled with gratitude. However at the same time we must ask ourselves what gift we can we offer to God in return.
Perhaps we can learn from the example of the Magis, the three Wise Men. They offered gifts of GOLD, FRANKINCENSE and MYRRH.
GOLD - what is the most precious gift we can offer? Time dedicated to God and in the service of our fellowmen; digging deep into our pockets to help the less fortunate.
FRANKINCENSE - uniting ourselves with the Lord by devout prayers and frequent participation in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and uniting ourselves with him in the reception of the Holy Eucharist which is the source and summit of our Christian life.
MYRRH - offering sacrifices to make the lives of our fellow men more meaningful by acts of humility, patience, compassion, kindness and self-control.
Let us remind ourselves that Christmas is the celebration of God's great gift to us and let us not forget to offer him something that is precious to us. Give from your heart and Christ will enter into your life. Christmas will be Christ-mas for you.
He left heaven's glory
For you and for me
He came to give life
Abundant and free
He died on the cross
Our souls to redeem
He lives and he reigns
As our Saviour and King.
This Christmas may you see and know anew
Just how great his love is toward you.
A Blessed Christmas to you!
Yours devotedly in Christ,
Archbishop Nicholas Chia