Monday, December 23, 2013
The materialism of Santa Claus and spirituality of the Child Jesus
Leonardo Boff Blog (em português)
December 21, 2013
One day, the Son of God wanted to know how the children whom, when he used to walk among us, he would touch and bless and would say "Let the children come to me...for the kingdom of God belongs to them" (Luke 18:16), were doing.
As in the ancient myths, he mounted a celestial lightning bolt and came down to Earth a few weeks before Christmas. He took the form of a street-sweeper who cleaned the streets. Thus he could better see the passersby, the shops all lit up and filled with objects wrapped for gifts, and especially his younger brothers and sisters who wandered around poorly dressed, many of them hungry and begging alms. He grieved greatly because he found that hardly anyone followed the words that he had left: "Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me." (Mark 9:37)
And he also saw that no one was talking about the Child Jesus who comes, secretly, on Christmas Eve, bringing gifts for all children. His place was taken by a good-natured old man, dressed in red with a bag on his back and a long beard who foolishly yells at all hours, "Ho! Ho! Ho! ... look at Santa Claus here." Yes, on the streets and inside the big stores there he was, hugging the children and taking from the bag the gifts that the parents had purchased and placed there. It's said he came from afar, from Finland, riding a sleigh pulled by reindeer. People had forgotten another old man, a truly good one: St. Nicholas. From a wealthy family, he gave Christmas gifts to poor children saying it was the Child Jesus who had sent them. No one was talking about any of this. They only spoke of Santa Claus, invented over a hundred years ago.
As sad as seeing the children abandoned in the streets was realizing that they were being deceived, seduced by the lights and the glow of gifts, the toys and a thousand other things that fathers and mothers usually buy as presents to be distributed at the Christmas supper.
Ads, many of them misleading, were screaming loudly, stirring up desire in the children who later ran to their parents, begging them to buy what they saw. The Child Jesus dressed as a street-sweeper realized that what the angels sang at night in the fields of Bethlehem -- "Behold, I proclaim to you great joy for all the people because today a Savior has been born to you... Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to people of good will" (Luke 2:10-14) -- meant nothing anymore. Love had been replaced by things, and the joviality of God who became a child had disappeared in the name of the pleasure of consumption.
Saddened, he took another celestial lightning bolt and before returning to heaven, he wrote a short letter for the children. It was found under the front doors of the houses and of the hovels in the hills above the city called favelas in particular. The Child Jesus wrote:
My dear little brothers and sisters,
If you are looking at the manger and see the Child Jesus there and are filled with faith that he is the Son of God the Father who became a little boy, a boy like one of us and that he is the God-Brother who is always with us,
If you can see in other boys and girls, especially the poor ones, the hidden presence of the Child Jesus being born within them,
If you can make the child hidden inside your parents and adults be reborn so that love, tenderness, affection, caring and friendship emerge in them instead of many presents,
If, when you look at the manger, you discover Jesus poorly clad, almost naked, and remember the many children who are equally poor and poorly dressed and you suffer in the depths of your hearts because of this inhumane situation and decide starting now, that when you grow up, you will change these things so that there won't be children crying from hunger and cold anymore,
If you notice the three wise men with gifts for the Child Jesus and think that even the kings, the great and wise of this world, recognize the hidden greatness of this little boy who whimpers in the straw,
If, when you see all those animals in the manger, like the sheep, the ox, and the cow, you think that the whole universe is also illuminated by the Child Jesus and that we all -- the galaxies, stars, suns, Earth, other natural beings and we ourselves -- make up the great House of God,
If you look up and see a star with its tail and remember that there is always a Star like the one at Bethlehem above you, illuminating you and showing you the best paths,
If you sharpen your ears and hear from your inner senses, celestial music like that of the angels in the fields of Bethlehem announcing peace on earth,
Then you will know that it is I, the Child Jesus, who is coming again and renewing Christmas. I will always be near you, walking with you, crying with you, and frolicking with you until that day when we all -- humankind and universe -- come to the House of the Father and Mother of infinite goodness to be eternally happy together as one big reunited family.
Bethlehem, December 25 of year 1.
Signed: The Child Jesus