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  Opinion   Oped  03 Feb 2017  Mystic Mantra: Serving God and humanity

Mystic Mantra: Serving God and humanity

Father Dominic Emmanuel, a founder-member of the Parliament of Religions, can be contacted at frdominic@gmail.com
Published : Feb 3, 2017, 4:19 am IST
Updated : Feb 3, 2017, 7:28 am IST

Identifying with the poorer section of society, as Jesus’ birth in a stable signified too, Mary and Joseph could offer only doves and pigeons.

Jesus cross
 Jesus cross

Most churches remove Christmas decorations after the feast three wise men’s visit to honour Jesus on January 6. Many churches in Europe, however, keep the decorations till February 2, which marks 40th day after Christmas. According to the Jewish custom in which Jesus’ family, like most Jews, was firmly embedded, the parents of Jesus brought him into the synagogue (Jewish temple) to present him to God. The Bible records it thus, “When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, as it is written in the Law of the Lord, ‘Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord’, and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: ‘a pair of doves or two young pigeons’.”

Identifying with the poorer section of society, as Jesus’ birth in a stable signified too, Mary and Joseph could offer only doves and pigeons. The better off brought a lamb instead. Though important, it is a minor detail in the story. The more important one is about Simeon. The Bible informs us, “Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout… and the Holy Spirit was upon him… when the parents brought in the child Jesus… Simeon took him in his arms and praised God: ‘Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people’…”

 

It is worth noting that in the very first days of his life, Jesus’ role as the saviour of the world is being revealed even as the parents are busy observing just the basic Jewish laws. This revelation of Jesus and keeping with the spirit of today’s feast, many women’s religious orders (nuns) in the Catholic Church choose February 2 as the day to dedicate themselves in the service of God and humanity. Their offering is made in a spiritual liturgical ceremony by embracing the three vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, to God. These vows not only symbolise their renunciation of the attractions and attachments of all that is worldly, but help them to both rely on God’s providence and sovereignty and to spend their life in union with God, through service to humanity. Similar vows are also made by men (priests and brothers) for the same purpose as above but are not necessarily made today. 

 

This feast helps us all to realise that our own religious traditions can play an important role in offering our talents, energies and even our life in the service of God and humanity.

Tags: christmas, bible, god