WHAT TO give for Christmas will be the question on most people's minds for the next few weeks — or should I say days? With children, the problem isn't so difficult. The trouble is with us adults — and by adults 1 mean anyone over the age of 15.
Sadly, Christmas has become a time of worry for many, caused by lack of money. But when you boil it all down, why should it bother us? In my childhood, my parents were just about making ends meet, as were many parents of that period just after the Second World War. Yet my memories of Christmas time are mostly happy ones. The unhappy ones were when I was in hospital away from my family.
The main reason we kids were happy was because our mums and dads sacrificed many things, so that we could have what we hoped for — within reason, of course. And I believe that many people today don't know the meaning of sacrifice — and we certainly don't see much about us — and that's why we get uptight and depressed.
Admittedly, being visually attacke by TV ads which are aimed at kids to put pressure on their parents, doesn't help. But over and above everything else, the cause is really a crisis of faith — faith in one, true God.
As a result, you have an incredible growth in greed and selfishness, and an unwillingness to make sacrifices for others — our children, other people's children and adults.
When Jesus said, You must become as little children," one of his reasons was that little children do not compare; they receive direct enjoyment from what they have, without relating it to something or someone else.
It's only as they get older (maturer?) and sin begins to stir within their hearts, that jealousy and envy appear. Then they are unable to enjoy what they have if someone else has something larger or better.
But isn't that exactly how
many of us are until Jesus sets us free? And when we begin to experience that freedom, which only comes from God through His Son, by the power of His Holy Spirit, it's only then that Christmas will cease to be a worry; it's only then that we will know what to give ourselves, our kids and our friends and relations; and what to give those who have little or nothing — the suffering and lonely in hospitals or homes or on the streets of all our cities, towns and villages, throughout Ireland and the rest of the world.
Let us, this Christmas show each other the love of Jesus Christ by truly celebrating His birthday. The only way to put Christ once more at the centre of Christmas is to obey His commandments: "Love the Lord your God with yOur whole heart, mind, spirit and body. and love your neighbour as you love yourself."