First Christmas, Last Christmas

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‘Good news of great  joy for all the people’ (Luke 2:10). This is  how  the Bible describes the  birth of Jesus. It was the first Christmas and  the news was first  broken to  shepherds  living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Even today, the  good news is coming first to  those shepherds who spend their nights in the open fields with their flock. They get the message right, that  this is preparation time for the great Advent. May their numbers increase.

Christmas is all about  Jesus’ love  towards  mankind, which  compelled him  ‘not  to regard equality with  God as something to be exploited. Instead  he emptied himself, taking the form of  a slave, being born in  human likeness’ (Phil.2:6-7). He humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross. It was  for  the Father to  highly exalt Jesus and give him  the name that is above every name, so that  at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and  every tongue should confess that Jesus  Christ is Lord, to the glory  of  God the Father (Phil. 2: 9-11)

Love  of  our God as manifested in Jesus never ceases. It  continues  till the very last day. In  that  sense   Christmas is not a  once-in-a-year affair. Rather it is a continuum running from the  manger in Bethlehem, a  town close to Jerusalem,  to the New  Jerusalem, of which we read in the book of Revelation, where Jesus Christ  reigns in glory.  In  the first  Christmas, his divinity is obscured and hidden by his humanity; in his second coming, the humanity will be veiled over by the splendor of his divinity, says the Blessed Virgin. Christmas is the thread  connecting Bethlehem to the  New  Jerusalem.

Perhaps, for the  first time in centuries,  we are forbidden from celebrating Christmas the way we did in the past.  I can read the  poignancy  written on the  faces of  many Christians who are not sure whether they can attend the Christmas Mass, be  it at midnight or  morning. Restrictions are in place to  prevent the faithful from assembling, worshipping and even singing. No doubt, religious freedom of  Christians has been the  biggest  casualty of Covid-19.  

How do you plan to  celebrate this Christmas?  With or without midnight Mass, with or  without carol singing, with or without the quintessential crib, we know, we will  celebrate  Christmas. Because  Christmas is not about   what we  see externally. It is  about  the birth of  the Holy Child  into the chill of our hearts. Every Christmas is a reminder of the nativity scene at  Bethlehem. At the same time it is a pointer towards the  final Advent   leading to the establishment of  his  kingdom among us.  Christmas is not  a mere remembrance of things  past. It is equally a  symbol of things to come.

We have been celebrating Christmas for centuries. Every year it was  a festival of plenty,  both spiritually and materially.  This time I fear,  that the next Christmas will be rich in Spirit but poor otherwise. For us  this should be the most  beautiful part of the coming  Chrstmas.  From the first Christmas till this date  we  know  the milestones we passed, the hurdles we  crossed, the trials we have been through and  the providence which  helped us stay steadfast. It has been a journey through centuries  holding the  Holy Child and his holy parents in our hearts.  The next  Christmas is hardly a few days ahead and we  have no doubt in  our hearts as to the way in which we  are going to welcome the Holy Child. We will receive him into the warmth of   a manger  prepared within our hearts.  For us it will be a  ‘Silent Night, Holy  Night’ as usual. When we  enjoy the peace  of Christ in our hearts, the world  outside is looking for peace somewhere else, and they fail miserably. The world  is  sitting on a time bomb and the trigger  can  go  off any time. We have been hearing  about the  so called ‘great reset’  and ‘build back better’  which will, they say, usher in a  New World. But it  is  only  halfway  to what our Lord  promised. He  has promised a  New Heaven and New Earth for those who stand  with  Him.

Every Christmas is a call to  meditate on the   Last Christmas. We do not know how many  Christmases are left for us to celebrate.  But  we know  one thing for sure. That the consummation of  time is to happen with the last Christmas, that is the glorious  second coming of  our Lord.  When he came on earth  two  thousand years ago, no king, no priest, no elder, no noble,  recognised him.  It had to be so, because he came  to take away our sins.  As Isaiah prophesied, he was supposed to be a man of  sorrows. He had no form or majesty that we should look at him. He was to be despised and  rejected by others and was  destined to  be a man of suffering, acquainted with infirmity. The first Christmas was  to give birth to the  sacrificial lamb  for the  ultimate sacrifice on   cross. 

“He was wounded for  our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities, upon him  was the punishment that made us whole and by his bruises we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5). He accomplished  what was assigned to him by his Father  during his first coming.  It could not  be a grand  event because he was as silent as  a lamb that is led to the slaughter and like a sheep  standing before its shearers. 

But when the  wheel of time comes a full circle, when the great  day of the Lord comes, we will see him in all his majesty and glory. Second Christmas is going to be  a grand event, like one which the  world has never experienced in its entire history.  Our eyes are fixed  to that  last  Christmas, not to the  next Christmas.  Unlike the  next Christmas, nobody can take away the joy of  that  Chrstmas from us. Because  the  returning  Lord will  destroy his enemy   with the breath of his mouth, annihilating him by the manifestation of  his coming( 2 Thessa.2:8). To those who are fortunate to enter the New Heaven and New Earth, ‘He will wipe every  tear from  their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things  have passed away'( Rev. 21:4).

Which Christmas are you  preparing for? The Next Christmas or the Last Christmas?  If you have the  Last Christmas in your mind, then  read on. This is what his Mother – ours too – said about it; 

‘His second coming, beloved sons, will be like the first.

The world will be completely covered in the darkness of the denial of God, of its obstinate rejection of Him……..and of rebellion against his Law of love. The coldness of hatred will still cause the roadways of this world to be deserted. Almost no one will be ready to receive Him.The great ones will not even remember Him, the rich will close their doors on Him, while his own will be too busy with seeking and affirming themselves…

‘When the Son of Man comes, will He still find faith on the earth?’ He will come suddenly and the world will not be ready for his coming. He will come for a judgement for which man will find himself unprepared.

Even in this second coming, the Son will come to you through his Mother. As the Word of the Father made use of my virginal womb to come to you, so also will Jesus make use of my Immaculate Heart to come and reign in your midst.

This is the hour of my Immaculate Heart, because the coming of Jesus’ glorious Reign of love is now in preparation. Beloved sons, just as I did, you too must prepare yourselves to receive Him!’ (Message  no 166   from the book ‘To the Priests Our Lady’s beloved Sons’)

‘In the mystery of this Night, understand also how the fullness of time is accomplished in the new time which awaits you, because this first coming of Jesus in the frailty of his human nature is directed toward his second coming, when He will appear in the splendor of his divine glory. In the first Christmas his divinity is obscured and hidden by his humanity; in his second birth, the humanity will be veiled over by the splendor of his divinity.

You are living out the mystery of this second Advent, which is preparing you to receive Jesus,

when He returns to you on the clouds of heaven. Only then will the second Advent through which you are living reach its fulfillment. Then time will attain its fullness.Then will the Immaculate Heart of your heavenly Mother attain her triumph, in the definitive and

glorious triumph of her Son Jesus.(Message no 603) 

Our Lady sent  these Christmas messages   through   Fr Stefano Gobbi to  invite us to  be ready  for the upcoming great event. As her loving  children let us  heed her  call and prepare ourselves for the Last Christmas, even while  welcoming the  next Christmas.

O,Come; Let Us Adore Him!

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