Christmas is YOU!
Read this beauty of Pope Francis
“Christmas is usually a noisy party: we could use a bit of silence, to hear the voice of love.
“Christmas is you: when you decide to be born again each day and let God into your soul.
The Christmas Pine is you, when you resist vigorous winds and difficulties of life.
The Christmas decorations are you, when your virtues are colors that adorn your life.
The Christmas bell is you, when you call, gather and seek to unite.
You are also a Christmas Light, when you illuminate with your life, the path of others with kindness, patience, joy and generosity.
The Christmas angels are you when you sing to the world a message of Peace, Justice and Love.
The Christmas star is you, when you lead some one to meet the Lord.
You are also the wise men, when you give the best you have, no matter who.
Christmas music is you, when you conquer the harmony within you.
The Christmas gift is you, when you are truly, friend and brother of every human being.
The Christmas Card is you, when kindness is written in your hands.
The Christmas greeting is you, when you forgive and reestablish peace, even when you suffer.
The Christmas dinner is you, when you give bread and hope to the poor man who is by your side.
You are, yes, Christmas night, when humble and conscious, you receive in the silence of the night the savior of the world without noise or great celebrations; you are a smile of trust and tenderness, in the inner peace of perennial Christmas, that establishes the kingdom within you.
A very merry Christmas for all those who look like Christmas. Pope Francis.
Wish you A Happy or Sorry Christmas?
dr. james kottoor
When the world’s affordable, comfortable class, they are very few, rejoice and revel in a sea of affluence and merry go round of a throw away culture, the vast majority of the poor of Yahweh, the Lazar ruses of this world are asked and advised to stay spiritually detached from the necessities they don’t and can’t posses!
What are they? Who lack a roof over their head, food and clothing, a job to meet daily needs, lack of humane helpful company to replace the jungle surroundings of animals like cows, goats and donkeys as in a Christmas crib.
Then comes the exhortation not to succumb to sadness and despair about the hopeless yearning for the necessities of daily living they lack, but to stay spiritually detached to rejoice like the noisy crowd, over what they posses and consume, but denied to the rest.
Is this not the harsh reality of Jesus’ birth in a cattle shed, apparently to give his heavenly (or earthly?) gifts of peace, joy, love and blessings for the dawn of abundance, instead of a paradoxical Cattle Class growing by leaps and bounds ahead of the comfortable class in numbers?
Optimism and pessimism are both taboo rationally. What about realism we all are forced to grapple with daily? Who will come to our aid to get us out of this grinding pain and misery, confusion and dilemma?
We are just ‘Know nothings’ waiting for enlightenment wondering where to turn! Come Lord, come, if you are still a live Lord above, below, around or within us, we pray! We too want to join the chorus singing heard around: Happy Christmas, happy New Year!
Only disappoint us not with stories of your triumph over a cross! We are already hung up on a cross of life, crowned with thorns surrounded by a Trump in US, May in England, Kim Jong-un in North Korea, Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel and Modi in India! Bless them all, also us LORD!
It’s Self-emptying, Highest
Becoming the Lowest!
(the cattle class!)
dr. james kottoor
“His (Jesus’) state was divine, yet he did not cling to his equality with God but emptied himself to assume the condition of a slave and became as men are, he was humbler yet, even accepting death, death on a cross.” (Phil. 2,7)
Llisten more from Apostle Paul: “If our life in Christ means anything to you, if love can persuade you all,…then be united in your convictions and love, with a common purpose and common mind….There must be no competition among you, no conceit, but everybody is to be self-effacing. Always consider the other person better than yourself, so that nobody thinks of his own interest first but everybody thinks of the other people’s interest instead.” (Phi.2, 1-5)
This is what ought to constitute the essence of anyone who claims to be a follower of Jesus or calls himself/herself a ‘Christian’. This name was first used in Antioch many years after Jesus’ death, but never during Jesus’ life. With the advent of thousands of churches in the middle ages the original group was called ‘Catholic’ and the rest Christian. Thus the name ‘Catholic ’which aught to mean universal actually became ‘Ghetto’. Why?
The original Christian community usurped that name, to distinguish itself after many groups rebelled and broke away especially with the historic Lutheran Schism. In effect what JESUS meant for all, his followers made it particular, each organizer assuming a particular name. Result? Today there are thousands of organized Churches, starting with names of the organizers. Hence also the hue and cry that ‘Organized Religions’ meant for organizers should end.
Slavish service: Hall mark
To come back to the main theme we started with; ‘What is Christmas and what it means to be a follower of Jesus, the simple answer is; All those who follow the life and teachings of Jesus in word and deed should do the self-emptying to become the least, a ‘slave’ to serve humbly those most in need.
If all have to have that humble mentality of a ‘Slave’ to serve those most in need, where is place for inequality; where is room for master and servant; where is place for a higher and lower of class distinctions of a Hindu caste system; where is any room for a hierarchical class system that starts with the laity on the ground and goes up step by step – religious, clerics/priests, bishops, archbishops, cardinals and the Pope at the top of the ladder – all of which brooks no breaking?
Of course our present Pope who places himself one step below the laity to deserve the title: “Servant of servants” is a towering exception, frowned upon and fought against by many power hungry top personalities in the hierarchy, who want to shine like peacocks in appearance and dominate others like a tiger or lion in the jungles.
The patron saints of these crooked canvassers were already among the 12 apostles of Jesus: James and John who tried in vain to sit on the right and left as Prime Ministers in his kingdom. They used their mother to plead with Jesus to grant them that coveted honor. This type of canvassing is being done even today under the reign of Francis which he stoutly opposes and therefore has become a Bate Noire, an arch enemy of many aspiring bishops and cardinals.
Saint rebuking Pope
There were also Popes with such craze for pomp and power. Listen to what St. Bernard said to such a pope Eugenius III (pope from 1145-1153) who was his subordinate before: “When the pope, clad in silk, covered with gold and jewels, rides out on his white horse, escorted by soldiers and servants, he looks more like Constantine’s successor than St Peter’s”. That was witnessing par excellence to the spirit of Jesus, which we are discussing here.
It was precisely to correct this wrong lifestyle and outlook that Pope John XXIII called the Vatican II: “to sweep clean the dust of the empire accumulated on the throne of Peter, ever since the time of Constantine” and what Francis does one better by saying: “I am a sinner!”. Much before him St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo described himself: “For you I am a Bishop, but with you I am a Christian” to emphasis his equality with all followers of Jesus who emptied himself to serve as “Emmanuel”, God with us. Only the really exalted can come down and be really one “with us” in every respect.
Come down to Cattle Class!
So the message of Christmas is what Jesus told Zacheus: “Come down from the tree top if I have to sup with you.” He repeats the same call to every one in the hierarchical ladder trying to climb higher and higher by hook or crook, and to the laity in the secular domain, presenting themselves as ‘intellectuals’ or canvassing for Chevalier-type of positions. Living examples are those who are just bishops but calling and presenting themselves as Archbishops, pretending themselves, on one pretext or other, to be much more than what they really are.
Is this not the same message that the “self-emptying of Jesus in a cattle shed, borne there because there was no room for Him in the palaces of the comfortable class, tells us? Shouldn’t all those who consider him as lord, master, teacher, guide and ‘Son of Man’, the ideal human for all humans, think seriously and change their lifestyle to become humbler and more credible? That is precisely why we the CCV group call ourselves the CATTLE CLASS to make a small beginning at least in this direction, for two reasons:
Two aspects of cattle class
First: Jesus self-emptied himself in a Cattle shed. He could not have lowered himself further. He thus became one with the wretched lot of humanity – like the haggard looking migrants who trudge the dusty, dirty roads, shot at and tortured or drowned in sea or the helpless women folk, young and old raped and brutally murdered for no valid reason.
Second: Cattle class has come to become synonymous with the lowest, despised rung in society, the poor, abandoned, untouchables, outcastes and uncared for of which no one wants to be a part. Recall a typical marriage add: “Wanted, a beautiful, well educated, Suriyani girl.” While all are in the rat race for top class, followers of Jesus are called to run for the last place in the CATTLE CLASS, in the company of ‘sacred’ cows, dogs and donkeys. Any takers? At least for a trial?
Some one once said: “There was only one Christian in the whole world. He died on the cross. Literally true! Not even St. Francis, though called the second Christ. Rani Maria suffered like Jesus on the cross. Fr. Damian kissed, embraced and served the lepers. Myriad are the roles the cattle class offers each one of us to serve. What ever they be, what is vital is to have that humility and readiness to serve the least, last and needy.
To serve, not to be Served
It is variously said: “Those who stand and wait also serve”, also, “to serve the Lord is to reign” (Servire Domino regnare est). Therefore those alone who are ready to serve the poor and needy in humble surroundings have any right to celebrate or rejoice at the birth of Jesus. Wish you all that Spirit of ‘self-emptying’ during this Christmas!
Published Dec.20/2017: in CCV, Kerala; Daily News, New York;
Build “Peace-loving Man”
To make this burning Hell
heaven of peace on earth!
dr, james kottoor
Building “peace-loving man”,(says Fethullah Gulen, read his article below) that is, humans, man/woman, totally committed to non-violence, tolerance and dialogue, is the only sure route to lasting peace on earth.
It is tedious task — laborious and time consuming like building a huge concrete structure like the twin New York towers, brick by brick. Therefore, instantly comes also the conflicting thought – NY trade centre was felled and met the fate of the biblical “Tower of Babel”, a monument built to proclaim the greatness of the builders, to make a name for themselves, not for common good. So the staggering question, the dilemma straining in our face is: “Is it worth striving to build the ‘towering peace-loving Man, as if we have never learn any lesson from history? I leave that question to you for answering.
Implanting a ‘Wish-bone’ in humanity through public opinion is a day dream, a quick-fix like writing on ocean surface, a starting point at best! But in New York, didn’t they rebuild the New York tower? So the message could be: ‘Never give up’, but try until you succeed.
You all know the story of the teen-ager who fixed the world map torn to bits and jumbled, in no time thanks to the picture of a man behind the map. He just fixed the man behind and the tattered bits of the whole world fell in due places! That means, fixing up the “peace-loving man”(world) is the unfinished challenge facing humanity today. The question is: How? Easy like fixing up the world map?
There have been and there still are ‘peace-loving’ men around. Two towering historical figures are the Man from Galilee, known also as the carpenter of Nazareth, Son of Man, Jesus the Jew. Some say he was the only good Jew, others, he was the only good Christian who was a Jew who died on the cross! The other is Buddha, a perfect picture of peace. One was born in utter destitution, in a cattle shed the other in lap of luxury! Which means, what matters is not how one begins his life on earth, but how he crowns it.
Peace to Good willed
Now think of the followers of these two spiritual giants of history! “Glory to God in the heavens and peace on earth to men of good will” the angels sang reportedly at the birth of Jesus. Yet from the time of the Prince of Peace to this day Jerusalem remains a zone of war and blood shed, not peace. As for Buddha, just think of the heart rending stories of war and violence targeted by or against the Rohingas in Miyanmar!
Think also of India, called the light of the East, supposedly yearning for “Vasudaiva Kudumbakam” and praying for “Loka Samasta Sukhino Bhavantu!” and the on going fight for dominance between the forces of division and unity on the basis of religion, caste, class and cultural habits like what one eats, drinks, wears and whom one marries, even when all speak of ‘development’ or ‘Acche Din’.
What about clash of ideas – use of “Neech or “Congress-Pak collusion to defeat BJP in Gujarat? What about total inaction against culprits of daylight murderers, by Cow vigilantes, of love-jihad man lynched, burned and video graphed to proclaim his valor, of the son of a top leader who amassed crores in one year and the nation’s media silenced as during emergency?
One feeble silver lining amidst the encircling gloom was the warning followed by quick suspension of Mani Sankar Ayar and Rahul’s inauguration speech portraying himself as a ‘very very humble person, not even a shadow, but at best a dummy or dwarf beside towering giants who led the destinies of the nation’ knowing well that it is going to be a race between the hare and the tortoise?
Shadow of Global scenario
What is happening in India is only a faint reflection of the global scenario led by a an incompetent world police, Trump trying to take the world to the dark ages of ‘Might is right’ and India’s Modi trying to win him over by ‘hug-diplomacy’. Globalization, already a fact, should not mean getting uprooted from one’s own moorings and culture. It should instead mean unity in diversity, complementing and enriching the universal with what is precious and particular to each country. It should turn out to be a synthasis, a happy marriage of local and global = Glocal, an enriching of the inseparable duo. Possible if building ‘peace loving man’ can be done. How to go about it?
The work is ours, we the people, you and me. The starting point is where humans are borne, our own homes where bricks of society are fashioned first, then the nursery schools to universities where humans with “good will” to collaborate and compliment, not to collide, conflict, terrorize and eliminate each other in a nuclear holocaust, are polished to perfect finish.
Not a call to evangelize
This is the timely message of “Glory to God in the highest and peace to men of good will” already heard sung around the world. This is not a call to make the whole world Christian. The one at whose birth this was sung in heavens, was a Jew. He never became a Christian, but lived as a Jew. died as a Jew, (INRI Jesus the Nazarene King of the Jews) was the inscription on the cross he died. He never established any Church or organized religion. His followers were called Christians first in Antioch years after his death. In Kerala they were called “Margam Kooiyavar” (those followed his path).
He presented himself as the SON OF MAN, as the ideal Man for all peoples, places, creeds and cultures and befriended the poor, untouchable, lonely and those in utmost need. If ever he started a class of people it was the CATTLE CLASS on the road, homeless and address less. The class culture was created by man, the most comfortable class headed by Constantine, not the ‘Ever lasting Man’ (Chesterton), the “Man from Galelee” (Fulton J.Sheen). His God was his Father, (Our Father who art in Heaven} who is the Father of all humanity.
All humans were his brothers and sisters. Nay he explicitly told them to treat him as their close best friend, not master at the last supper. None of the churches follow those instructions of his. They worship him, adore him and pray to him, all forbidden by him. Who is to blame for all these, except the Churches themselves, who want a King and Emperor figure, so that they can sit at the right and left as Prime Ministers, which James and John tried and failed miserably?
So goodbye to all organized fighting religions and more strength to Sri Narayana Guru pleading for ‘One God, one Religion and One Caste, the human caste male or female’. And more power to that God (if thre is a God) the Father of all, and His heavenly peace to all people of Good will, his true followers around the world! Wish you a Happy Christmas without Christ personified as a religious head, but as a leader of a pilgrim humane humanity of Good will! james kottoor, editor, ccv.
One solitary reaction from Indian bishops: above messages were sent separately to all bishops.
Bishop Gratian Mundadan, Dec.24/17
My dear James,
Thank you very much for your Christmas and New Year Greetings. I appreciate that you thought of me at this Holy Season. I sincerely reciprocate your Greetings with my promises of Prayer for you during the Holy Masses at the Christmas Midnight and New Year Day. God bless us all!
James Kottoor <email@example.com>
It was indeed very gracious of you to say a kind word on what we the cattle class group is trying to do, to give wings to the self-emptying message of Jesus. May He bless you. james, who wants to be the last in the cattle class of Jesus.
Another from one of CCV columnist
Hats off to james!
Behold the Poorest
and the Lost! Varghese Pamplanil
(Note: Words are easy like the wind, but faithful friends are hard to find! He spoke not a WORD in the cattle shed, but his thundering silence roars to the four corners of the sea of humanity to remind us all that we are ONE and INDIVISIBLE in rain and shine! Let the Pamplani tsunami thunder along unabated! james)
Hats off james for your cry in the wilderness for the poorest and the lowliest and the lost: “Wish you Happy or Sorry Christmas”.
When the midnight hour strikes on the 24 December, while the bells of a thousand churches ring loud in joy on the Birth of the Fisherman Saviour, from the thatched derelict huts of the fisherfolk on the Malabar Coast, loud cries and wailings of despair of the daughters and mothers will rise in a crescendo for their beloved ones lost in the Arabian Sea due to the devilish dance of destruction of Cyclone Ockhi.
But there will be no let up in the merriments in the nearby palaces of the Arch-bishops, the bishops and the well-healed, who have been shedding copious crocodile tears for the lost; the corks of choicest cognacs and rare matured single malt scotch whiskies will pop-up; the best quality cashew nuts, almonds and pistachios and the best of pork, beef and mutton, crabs and lobsters will be there on their dining tables as usual. Merry Xmas to them all.
“Pride can never approach to where thou walkest in the cloths of the humble among the poorest, and the lowliest, and lost, and last.
My heart can never find its way where thou keepest company with the companionless among the poorest, the lowliest, and the lost.”
“This is my prayer to thee, my lord –strike, strike at the root of penury in my heart.
Give the strength never to disown the poor or bend my knees before insolent might.
Give me the strength to raise my mind high above daily trifles. “ (Gitanjali)
Become silence breakers to spread His Peace!