CHRISTmas – The birthday of Santa Claus? by Bishop Franco Mulakkal

December 15, 2011 by  
Filed under Catholic, Church, India, New Delhi, newsletter-india

Birth JesusNew Delhi, December 14, 2011: First of all let me thank Rev. Fr. Babu Joseph who invited me to a give a message for this gathering organized by the staff of the CBCI and the Caritas in Delhi. I humbly consider it as a privilege to say a few words on this occasion. In my Christmas message, I would like to be in line with the Holy Father Benedict XVI who recently said in one of the parishes in the diocese of Rome that during the advent we should focus on Christ the Lord who enters our lives and brings us light and joy, without being distracted by the lights. He also mentioned that we must give things their correct value and fix our inner gaze on Christ.

We are gathered here in the capital and the CBCI being the nerve centre of the Church in India, if I could say so, I think there is a need to feel a kind of sense of responsibility. Let us ask a few questions like, has Christmas become Xmas like ex-minister?: – meaning Christmas without Jesus – Has Jesus been replaced with Santa Claus, thus strategically defeating the occasion itself? Has the preparation for the Christmas tree taken the place of the preparation for the Christmas Eucharist?

Why I say this is because some of the beautiful words of the past like “missionary”, “conversion” etc lost its original meaning and today they have become the hated vocabularies that people avoid. Will that happen to the Holy Name of Jesus? Of course, with a good intention, in order to promote communal harmony, and facilitate inter-religious dialogue there seems to be an emerging trend even at the highest levels to avoid taking the name “Jesus” and replacing it with words like “God, Lord, Ishwar, Bhagwan” etc. with a decent rider that for us these all mean the same thing. In the end, even the use of the name of Jesus might end up as an undesirable practice.

First I thought it was my feeling but later I realized that there are many who share the same feeling. Moreover, surprisingly the number of people thinking that Christmas is the birthday of Santa Claus is on the increase. I don’t know whether we can do something to stop all these dilutions and erosions of reality. Dear friends, certainly, I do not want to be a prophet of doom on a beautiful day like this and therefore I firmly hope and humbly pray that I am wrong. But let me reiterate what Holy Father said, “we should focus on Christ the Lord who enters our lives and brings us light and joy, without being distracted by the lights.” How can we in the CBCI bring Jesus Christ into the focus – not his message, please – that is only a natural consequence! How to preach Jesus Christ and not about Christian values – that is again is only a natural consequence – How to bring the focus on to Jesus Christ in all our missionary activities?

Therefore, Let us be proud of Jesus – Let us be proud of His birth. Because, there is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved. (Acts 412) You know, that’s why in that cold night the angels told the fear stricken shepherds, “Today in the city of David a saviour has been born for you”. (Lk 211)- Yes, dear all, a Savior is born for us too and we too are celebrating Christmas, the birth of Jesus’. Let our celebration too “bring Glory to God in the highest and peace to all on whom rests his favour”. (Lk 214). Once again I wish you all a very happy Christmas –

– franco mulakkal

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