Our response to Jesus’ birth

STREETLIFE - Nigel Villarete - The Freeman

For us Christians, the Christmas story is a familiar one. We heard it repeatedly since childhood --the story from the time it was announced to Mary by the angel Gabriel to the time on that midnight clear when it was proclaimed to a bunched of raggedly shepherds on a pitch-dark night turned exceedingly bright by myriads of angels, to the birth of Jesus in a manger (with no crib for a bed), and to the visit of the magi from the east. Maybe the question we should ask ourselves is: How do we respond to the nativity of Jesus?

The scriptures surely show us how they, in the Christmas story, responded on that blessed night. The shepherds, though originally scared by the amazing display of the myriads of angels, went to see Jesus and worshipped him. This must have been so important to them for they left their sheep unguarded out in the field. The other group, the magi, came from a faraway land and were not even Jews, bringing gifts befitting a king, as they thought the stars predicted the birth of one.

On the eighth day after his birth, Jesus was circumcised as required under the law handed down by God to Moses. Since he was also the firstborn, he was to be dedicated and consecrated to the Lord at the temple. This is where Simeon and Anna met Jesus. “Let your servant die in peace…I have seen your salvation,” Simeon exclaimed, holding the baby, and praised God. Already old, he remained righteous, waiting for the savior. God granted him and Anna the extraordinary privilege of meeting the savior at the time of his birth.

Anna was a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. Luke described her as a widow for 84 years, who never left the temple, serving night and day with fasting and prayers, waiting, like Simeon, for the messiah God promised centuries ago. Upon seeing the baby Jesus, she began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem, same as what the shepherds did.

The scriptures reveal to us how that very “first Noël” affected and drew the same responses from those whom God granted the privilege of witnessing the birth of Jesus on earth. To the shepherds, the magi, Anna, Simeon, and Mary herself, it drew praise, thanksgiving, and worship of God. And secondly, it caused that inner desire to tell others of the good news of salvation that Jesus brings.

How does this compare to our response to the same event today, 2,000 years later? Does it continue to draw praise, thanksgiving, and worship of God? Do we continue to share the message of salvation to others? Or isn’t it that after the opening prayer or the obligatory “Christmas” message, we seem not to talk about Jesus at all? Let’s have time for self-reflection.

Christmas is all about Jesus. Let’s give him praise, thanksgiving, and worship, and secondly, let the words of our mouth and the meditation of our hearts be always on him. And then, let’s proclaim to the world that Jesus saves!

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