Homelessness. Poverty. Being cast out and shunned.
This is the grim reality that millions of people might face as I sit down to write this post. I admit I am one of the luckier ones and grateful to have more than a safe space. But war, climate change and inflation have gone hand in hand to make life difficult. Hate and contempt for our fellow man has grown exponentially.
Christmas trees and Santa Claus are well-known icons of Christmas.
But this year, we need the other, major symbol of Christmas to be brought into focus, for people of all religions. We need the teachings of this man called Jesus, to symbolize and represent this Christmas. We need the help and acceptance to be displayed with humility, compassion and without fanfare. The love must focus on the needs of the recipient. We need this as more people need help to survive and be loved.
So many people forget that when it was time for Jesus to be born, no room was made for his pregnant mother at the inn. He was born in a manger, in a stable. Also, those who got word and were inspired to seek out the baby Jesus were on the fringes of society. Foreigners were also the ones who felt the need to seek baby Jesus out.
Now, if only people had known what a big deal Jesus was going to be, then maybe, just maybe, he would have been welcomed into the world with real pomp and circumstance. And not have been treated like an outcast. Unwanted and excluded.
A Time for Christmas Giving
This man, whom they called Jesus Christ, did nothing for publicity or personal glorification. It does not matter if you are a follower of this faith, the point is to look to what he represented. He represented love, compassion and acceptance. As quoted in the Bible verse above, what is done to the least human being is assumed to be done to God himself. He sought out the outcasts, sat with them and defied societal norms, to show his love for those who needed and craved it the most. This, Jesus expected of his followers, if they were truly to be Christians.
It is really very ironic that it is the most wonderful time of the year and yet, a huge swath of people do not have enough. The prospect of losing everything is on the horizon because the needy have not been given enough in a timely manner.
For years, I have held the view that real charity and giving is about the recipient and not the giver. What do I mean by this? I mean that true generosity and charitableness are as quiet and unassuming traits as one can get. And I have met so many of these charitable angels in my life. They are good people.
The last thing a recipient needs is to feel shame for accepting help; see Are We Really Sincere?. The recipient might not want everyone to know that he had to be helped. It is hard enough to feel that one has ‘failed’ and somehow needs help. This feeling can hurt as much as not having enough.
I know from experience that sometimes it is not enough just to receive. Sometimes receiving at the right time is equally important.
I honestly have no patience for anyone who says that a person is poor because they have not worked hard enough. The thing is, even now, people who have always been quietly charitable, continue to give.
But this is the age of attention-seeking, self-aggrandizement with a side of pure vanity. Is charity Instagram-worthy? Only if people can post their visit to some poverty-ridden place and capture their ‘Mother Teresa’ moments in an ethereal-themed filter. Where is that halo filter when you need it?
But more needs to be done. More needs to be given by the wealthy. More needs to be done by those who have the power and the means. More needs to be done by those who are so wealthy they can afford to share a little.
It is a poor excuse to say that there isn’t enough to feed the hungry, help the sick, provide shelter, help the less fortunate and to welcome the outcast. It is especially offensive to make these claims at a time of year when many of us celebrate the birth of a baby born in very humble circumstances. He, who many people view as a savior, would one day preach precisely these things: charity, compassion, love and acceptance. Acceptance, Respect and Understanding are at the core of this season.
We need to reflect this love and compassion. Then and only then, would we have truly observed Christmas.
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