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Christmas Message from Archbishop Peter Loy Chong

The following is head of the Catholic Church in Fiji Archbishop Peter Loy Chong’s Christmas message. CHRISTMAS: HOW IT STARTED To understand the true meaning of Christmas we have to
24 Dec 2017 10:23
Christmas Message from Archbishop  Peter Loy Chong
Catholic Archbishop Peter Loy Chong.

The following is head of the Catholic Church in Fiji Archbishop Peter Loy Chong’s Christmas message.

CHRISTMAS: HOW IT STARTED

To understand the true meaning of Christmas we have to locate it in the context of God’s revelation and human historical experience.

The revelation is God’s initiative to reveal God-self to humanity. However, God’s revelation is only possible when human beings open themselves to the experience of God.

The revelation is communicated historically through events, people, experiences and interpretations. Therefore, we speak about historical mediums of God’s revelation.

God reveals himself through human experience. Theologians speak about the subjective and objective nature of revelation.

For Christians, we believe that Jesus reveals God to us (objective). Jesus impacted the lives of his disciples to the extent that they left everything to follow him.

On the one hand, the disciples’ experience of Jesus and likewise that of Christians today, affirm that Jesus is salvation, He is the Messiah, He is Christ and we must follow in His footsteps (subjective).

We call this the dynamics or the structure of revelation; God reveals God-self and the human responds. Christmas celebrates the historical aspects of God’s revelation.

Christmas and Revelation

God reveals God-self in human history and experience. Hope is a virtue that runs through human history, especially the poor and suffering. Israel formulated this hope as the Kingdom of God but also linked it to the appearance of a saving figure, a saviour or messiah.

The prophets prophesied the coming of a mediator, a savior who will bring liberation to the people. Theologian, Johanne Baptiste Metz describes Israel as a landscape of cries because they were continually attacked, conquered and colonised.

For the suffering Israelites, the promise of the saviour was good news. Hence, they believed in an apocalyptic time, when the world would end but more precisely when suffering will end when the saviour comes.

When Jesus was born the messianic expectation was high. There were various expectations concerning the figure of the messiah.

Some thought that he would be a military leader who will free Israel from domination. Others expected the messiah to be a priest or a warrior-king.

But there was a common thread running through the Israelites’ expectation. First the saviour would be a descendant of David; second, he would carry out his mission on earth and establish a new kingdom, a new leadership, a new politics.

Finally, this messiah would be a public (political) figure who will respond to the hopes of the people and would change the situation in Israel.

Jesus began His mission teaching, healing, standing for the oppressed, speaking against corrupted leaders, raising some people from the dead. He explained that His mission was about the reign of God. Consequently, the civil and religious authorities killed Him because He was a threat to the status quo.

After Jesus’ death and when the tomb was found empty (resurrection) the disciples began to reflect on Jesus’ life.

They experienced in Jesus salvation, liberation, and hope. They felt they were reborn, understood and cared for. They experienced the fulfilment of their hope.

They experienced a new identity in the Kingdom of God. They radically committed themselves to following the footsteps of Jesus. Hence, for Christians, Jesus reveals God.

Behind the Christmas story and Jesus, lies this historical experience; the disciples’ messianic expectation and their experience of Jesus as Saviour and Messiah.

It is Jesus’ disciples’ experience and interpretation that gave birth and recorded the Christmas story.

Christmas, is therefore first and foremost, God’s revelation. God reveals Himself to people who hope for a new world, a world where people will experience values (love, justice, truth and peace) of the kingdom of God. We continue the Christmas legacy when we historically commit ourselves to the reign of God.

God may Your Kingdom come. Have a peaceful Christmas.

Feedback:  jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

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