|Nelson Faustin-christmas is CHARITY.|
As the Christmas season approaches, many people the world over focus on peace and goodwill, even though these virtues have become rare in today’s world. Nevertheless, there are those who are striving to promote peace and goodwill, both on the world stage as well as at the local level. Peace and goodwill are best promoted through the three virtues associated with Christmas which are faith, hope and charity.
Faith is an internal human trait which needs to be nurtured and cultivated. In the modern world, faith in one’s own self is being inculcated by educators and psychologists, albeit at a secular level. For example, sportspeople are trained both physically and psychologically to compete by having faith in themselves. Faith in a Benevolent Presence, who looks after the affairs of humankind, has been traditionally promoted by religious groups, particularly to those who are in desperate need.
The Apostle Paul in Letters to the Corinthians, while calling for the belief in the virtues of faith, hope and charity, extolled the supremacy of charity: “And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.” These three virtues, the basic pillars of human ethics, are found in all the world’s religions and are the basis of humanitarian values.
Significantly, in Buddhism, the act of charity (dana in Pali and Sanskrit) is also considered as the first of the great perfections (paramitas) which a Buddhist seeker on the path (marga) of enlightenment has to achieve.
In materialistic societies in which many of us now live, Christmas, to our chagrin, has become a time of suffering. This great festival actually accentuates amongst the poor the feelings of poverty, loneliness and deprivation. Various charity organizations try their best to alleviate this sense of deprivation through their works. We can do our bit as well. Making all individuals feel wanted and cared for is a particular focus of volunteers in the community who also include some prominent business people. Some of them attend and serve traditional Christmas lunches to the needy.
The Wayside Chapel in the Kings Cross area of Sydney, recruits hundreds of volunteers for a big street Christmas party for the needy. This annual event is assuredly one of Sydney’s biggest yearly festivities, and is open to everyone. Thousands of people attend and make it a success. This is definitely an expression of Australian egalitarianism and of non-discrimination.
But things were not always like this everywhere. Mahatma Gandhi was once refused entry into a church in South Africa when he wanted to attend a Christmas celebration. He had merely desired to listen to his friend CF Andrews (author of Mahatma Gandhi’s Ideas), whom he had previously known in England, preach during the service. This refusal was despite strong entreaties. Such was the extent of discrimination then during the era of apartheid.
Many years later (in 1986), we saw an African, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, installed as the Head of the Anglican Church in Southern Africa; he had been earlier bestowed with the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1984. Tutu describes South Africa as a “rainbow nation”, a term also appropriately applicable to Australia.
Charity is not all based on merely giving either money or gifts. Kind language and proper consideration also fall into the category of charity. Particular mention must be made here about groups who welcome refugees, the most disadvantaged of groups in Australia, and make them feel at home.
The Salvation Army, in a recently released shocking report (October 2010), states that two million Australians live in poverty. It is sobering to realise, particularly in the context of Christmas, that 70% of poor children live in jobless families. This is a severe indictment of a materialistic society.
Last year, in December 2009, the Kmart Christmas Giving Index revealed a great social divide in Australia. Whilst an average Australian child had $228 spent on her or him, according to the Salvation Army, hundreds of thousands of children went without any gift at all and that organisation, therefore, endeavours to encourage sparing a gift for children in need.
Christmas, which existed originally as a solar festival, belongs to all mankind. The time chosen to celebrate it is close to the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. From then onwards, daytime in the Northern Hemisphere emisphereHemisphere Hbegins to lengthen. This significant seasonal change (the rebirth of light and warmth) belongs to all mankind. In the Southern Hemisphere, we celebrate the festival during the height of summer when the glory of the Sun is at its ascendant.
Whatever might be our religious beliefs, we can all reflect on ways by which the spirit of Christmas can be translated into peace and goodwill for ourselves and for those amongst us who are less fortunate.
Do something so that you make the christmas eve meaningfull to yourself, to God and to all who surrounds you. It is the time to love and live with all human beings as one family, that is why we have Jesus on earthm. How do you take christmass, this is how we take it.. We believe that God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him (trusts and puts their life in Him) will not die but will have eternal life (John 3:16). The Bible goes on to explain this further, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (Jn 3:17). How do we know that Jesus is the Saviour? One of the ways is to look at if and how he fulfills what was written about the Promised Messiah long before his birth.