These days I eavesdrop on people talking about the meaning of Christmas, about love between people, about peace, about the brotherhood of peoples, about hope and salvation.
These are beautiful words that come to life during these days, thoughts that want to become actions to help the poor, the elderly, the homeless and the needy.
And while we remember all those in need, we find once again the forgotten person within us, the person who lives other days by sharing and sometimes participating in injustice, withholding, violence and wickedness.
We are talking about the birth of Christ on our earth. Then it was an event. Now it repeats as a celebration. And the difference is huge.
Then mankind was unprepared. Christmas trees had not been set up, colorful lights were not flashing, choirs of people did not prepare their concerts. Nobody was keeping vigil expecting the birth of Christ.
On the other hand, there was a feeling of expectancy that pervaded the atmosphere everywhere. Someone was coming.
Now the scene is completely different, I would say the opposite. There are very many ornaments. Colorful, diverse and abundant lights, lights and lanterns that give a festive atmosphere to the whole scene. Homilies are spoken by many. There are concerts, choirs, bands, hymns, songs, parties and several Christmas programs.
Many are rising up against these celebrations and crave a return to the early years.
On the other hand, there is no true hope in people's hearts.
What perhaps is the true meaning of Christmas?
Can love really become a fashion and be sold in the shops? Can the salvation of the soul become a fleeting experience that fades along with Christmas lights?
It can, and it has!
We all do things while staying at the surface. It is a rare exception when someone goes a bit further. When they seek the essence. Christmas goes by and they are almost never touched in the depth of the heart. Meanwhile they have achieved other purposes - spending money on things that will become waste, giving gifts, strangers and relatives are together, the table is laden.
These days which are illumined with such artificial light, I think how true life is elsewhere and we just wander about lost!
And I keep the timely prayer of Tasos Livaditis:
"Lord, I have sinned before You. I dreamed too much, and I forgot to live. Only with a secret that I learned as a child do I return to the real world, but no one recognized me, like an illusionist who gave smiles to children all day, and at night they returned to their attic poorer than the angels. We always lived elsewhere, and only when someone loves us do we come, for a little bit. And when someone does not die for another, we are already dead."
Source: Ekklesiastiki Paemvasi, "Χριστούγεννα... Ο Μεγάλος Απών", December 2009. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.