On December 24, the truly devout Christians will attend the midnight ‘Christ-Mass’ service to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, who Christians believe is the Son of God. Or perhaps they will arise before sunrise the next morning to attend the Sunrise Mass. Arriving back home, they gathered around the tree that stands in the living room to give and receive presents, then jump on social media to wish all their friends Merry Christmas. Friends and family members will drop by or call because it is a time when family and friends come together to remember all the good things they have in their life.
It is important to understand that Jesus was not a Christian, and was a Jew. In Jesus’ time, Judaism was a monolatry, meaning that Jews, worshipped only their God. The idea of one God for the whole world—monotheism—was developed 600 years before Jesus’ birth. And, it is important to understand that Jesus worshipped his God, without having to discredit the religion or beliefs of others. Like other Jews, Jesus saw God as his Father and himself as his Son, in the well known Judaism sense of closeness.
It is also important to understand that Jesus attempted “not to abolish but to fulfill” the law of Jewish prophets while adapting such laws to the changing age. He valued the innocence of children over the traditional wisdom of elders, faith over empty rituals, and stressed the privacy of prayer. Another feature of his approach was his insistence on absolute faith and the willingness of believers to sacrifice everything, including their body parts and family connections, for the sake of repentance and entrance to Kingdom of God. But Jesus didn’t talk about a church.
Judaism was a religion of deeds, not one of faith and dogma, as the belief system developed by Paul and John would later become. The Christianity that emerged in the first five centuries of our era would have been unrecognizable to the charismatic preacher known to us as Jesus.
Jesus’ iconoclastic but decidedly Jewish message grew in time into the complex faith of Christianity. He displayed all the traits of traditional biblical, charismatic prophets. He healed, exorcized, raised the dead, even raising Lazarus after four days. Jesus performed other feats such as feeding thousands.
Christmas is a good time to remember Jesus’ statement that “a prophet is without honor only in his hometown, among his kin, and in his own house.” You have the entire year to be kind to your friends and family. Christmas as the celebration of Jesus should be much more than a celebration within the confines of your home. The way in which Christmas is celebrated today would have been unrecognizable to the charismatic preacher known to us as Jesus.
What if for one day people would celebrate Jesus by acting as he did; spending time being deliberately kind to others. The action of being kind to other can and do change the way individuals think about themselves. When we radiate kindness, a contagious transformation takes place where a chain reaction is set into place. By radiating kindness, you are making an impact on those whom you come into contact with, and in turn, the kindness spreads to others and influence them to change they way in which they live that day.
What would the world be like if each thought about their life choices and behavior regarding compassion and how they can make a difference in the world around them. If you are a Christian, rather than cutting down a living tree that will be thrown to the curbside in a few days, or spending great amounts of money on presents for friends and family members, you acted with compassion and donated the money to feed children to have nothing on this day; no tree with it’s brightly covered ornaments, with expensive presents wrapped in festive gift wrap and nothing to sustain their hunger.
Everyone can make a difference. And, while you cannot feed all the children who have nothing, you can give to just one, if only an act of kindness, which is certainly better than zero.