The other side of Christmas

We reckon the Christmas story with the gentle scenery of the Baby Jesus in the manger with shepherds, angels and kings with exotic gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh in the background.

But there is the other side of the Christmas story that can relate more to people who are dealing with difficulty and challenge. This completes the calm, silent or holy portrayal of Christmas…

It speaks about the painful processes required to come up with the gentle scenery which was brought about, as it were, by the agonizing experiences of the protagonists of our salvation history, including John the Baptist, the voice crying in the wilderness, who lived in self-sacrifice, persecution and eventual martyrdom. Even the visiting kings had to travel a great distance into unknown territory after a frightful courtesy call on King Herod. It took the exceptional courage for Mary in accepting the motherhood of the Savior as well as for Joseph to take her as his wife. The aftermath of the gentle scenery was even more disturbing when the Holy Family had to flee to Egypt as King Herod ordered his army to slaughter all children under age two in Bethlehem in a murderous search for the Child. The violent events in the Old Testament, including the murder of the prophets, remotely preceded the realization of the gentle scenery of Christmas, as we know it.

Like the pangs of birth, the Christmas story was marred with bloody circumstances and a history of violent events, courageous acts and difficult decisions.

In a very real way, we can relate to our present difficulties and challenges the other side of the Christmas story as we search the light in the shadows of our dark experiences… A complete approach to the Christmas story is about appreciating more not only its gentleness, peace and joy but also its aspects of fear, insecurity and violence. Christ’s coming does not save us from the harsh, ugly and dark realities of our life. But it equips us with the grace to face our fears and frustrations in the faith that love can overcome death.