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  Opinion   Oped  25 Dec 2018  Mystic Mantra: Stop cribbing. Be a Christmas crib!

Mystic Mantra: Stop cribbing. Be a Christmas crib!

Francis Gonsalves is a professor of theology. He can be contacted at
Published : Dec 25, 2018, 6:33 am IST
Updated : Dec 25, 2018, 6:33 am IST

Mary — revered as “Miriam” byMuslims —surrenders to God’s will despite difficulties which endanger her and the Christ-child.

Christmas-time, Christians erect cribs at home.
 Christmas-time, Christians erect cribs at home.

Though Santa Claus often occupies centre-stage at Christmas, the real centre of Christmas — as the word suggests —is “Christ”. “Christmas” literally means “sending Christ-Jesus”, who Christians worship as God’s Son. God sent Jesus to us — bringing good news of love, joy, peace and justice.

Christmas-time, Christians erect cribs at home. “Crib” evokes many images. As a noun, it refers to a baby’s sleeping-cot or an eating-trough where cattle consume fodder. Moreover, the verb “to crib” could either mean copying someone else’s work and pretending it is one’s own, or complaining about something or someone.

“Cribbing” originates in the animal world where, strangely, instead of eating fodder, a horse suffering from “cribbing” begins biting wood of the feeding-trough with its teeth, and consequently swallows air. Cribbing is not a horse-disease as such, but rather an inappropriate behavioural pattern in horses called “stereotypic behaviour”.

Often, we, like horses, also exhibit obsessive-compulsive behaviour that is non-lethal, but yet destructive. Like horses, we begin cribbing — sowing hate, when we’re created to love; seeking revenge, when pardon is pathway to peace; and, spreading sorrow, when happiness is what keeps us hearty and healthy.

This Christmas, instead of cribbing about everything, let’s contemplate the Christmas crib where Joseph, Jesus’ foster-father and Mary — his mother, who conceived him by the power of God’s Spirit — gave birth to Jesus and laid him in a crib, far removed from the hustle and bustle of society.

Born in Bethlehem — literally meaning “house of bread” — Jesus later preaches: “I am the bread of life,” meaning, anyone who follows his message of love, joy, justice and peace will savour sustenance for body and spirit. Jesus is known as a Premavatar — the incarnation of selfless love. Christmas teaches us to be kind and loving to all.

Mary — revered as “Miriam” by Muslims —surrenders to God’s will despite difficulties which endanger her and the Christ-child. She is a model of faith in God. Finally, Joseph, is the silent worker. A carpenter by profession, there is not a single recorded word of Joseph in the Bible. However, he is the hopeful, helpful one — leading Mary and Jesus from their native Nazareth to Bethlehem, then, to Egypt, and finally back to Nazareth.

Rather than merely making cribs, this Christmas, we could all be cribs — certainly not by cribbing, but by assuming the role of Jesus in our loving, by being like Mary in our servant-surrender to God, and by silently helping others weighed down by difficulties, like Joseph.

When you wish someone “Merry Christmas” you want her/him to have fleeting fun. And, when you wish “Happy Christmas” you seek health and happiness. Personally, I prefer saying: “Have a Mary-Christmas” overflowing with love, hope, peace and joy.

Tags: santa claus, christmas, premavatar