“The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious – the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science,” wrote Albert Einstein, the famous physicist. Two thousand years ago, which is a small period in the universal timescale, there occurred a miraculous event at Bethlehem which showed to the humankind what God wanted humans to be like. Jesus was born. He lived only thirty three years, thirty years of which was spent in his village as an unknown carpenter, never travelled more than a radius of 100 miles from where he lived, but in three years he segmented time into AD and BC and influenced the course of history like nobody has ever done. This is a great miracle. What did he give to mankind to celebrate Christmas every year for all time to come? In a single word, it was hope.
“Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all.”
Says the 19th century American poet, Emily Dickinson. Christ gave hope to human life.
Mahatma Gandhi admired the Sermon on the Mount throughout his life and fashioned the principles of non-violence from its teachings. The hope given to humankind is celebrated in Christmas every year. It is the present for the active seeker and not for the passive spectator. If we examine the life of Christ, there were many who wanted to see him. There were the wise men from the East who travelled from afar to get a glimpse of the child whom the star announced. They wanted to worship him. There was Simeon who spent all the years of his life in the hope of meeting the Messiah. He was prepared to die after meeting him. There was the prophetess Anna, 84 years old, living in the temple who recognized the child Jesus. There were the disciples who came to meet him probably out of curiosity and became his followers. There was the multitude of people suffering from hunger and diseases who came for solace and redemption from their afflictions. When Jesus was born, the King Herod had an urge to see the child – he wanted to kill him. How a person sees Jesus depends on his heart. There were a few who longed to see him, an urge which arose from the goodness of their hearts when they wanted to follow a life of righteousness. There was Mary Magdalene who wanted to see Jesus with a heart of repentance. There was the tax collector Zaccheus, Zachai in Hebrew meaning ‘pure’, who wanted to see Jesus as his heart disturbed him about his life of greed. Today, the human race is in the mental state of Zachai, driven by the economics of greed, which is destroying the planet and its environment, changing the global climate and causing wars and violence. This calls for a new mission. Einstein wrote on this mission:
“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affectation for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” This is precisely what Christ taught. Christmas brings the hope of a sustainable and peaceful life on this planet with universal collective consciousness of human goodness and compassion. As Bil Keane noted, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present.”