By Bro Willy Nakar
The celebration of the Lord’s birth is a feast which every Catholic and Christian observes with gladness of heart. Especially here in the Philippines where the season of Advent can be felt and experienced in more ways than one: through Church activities, through gift-giving in the
family, offices, neighborhood and community. Distribution of presents to loved ones as well as to those who have less in life is the norm, and generosity is practiced more in December than in other months of the year.
Christmas parties are a “must have” and children are the ones who look forward to the merrymaking. Even needy members of family or the community make the effort to prepare gifts for others, not necessarily expensive, but the more heartfelt ones.
Christmas is the time when even children’s piggy banks are lovingly cracked open to make way for the purchase of some special presents. As for food, the meal served — even in modest homes — is the better kind, as much as the family budget will permit. But for the more impoverished — as it was when Jesus was born in Bethlehem and cradled in the manger — they manage to celebrate with whatever they have. But celebrate they will.
Of course, at first the Holy Family had very little, not even a decent place for Jesus to have been born — which is why Jesus and His family could relate to the poorest of the poor whose needs could be met by the One who knew how it was to be destitute.
"For your sake he became poor although he was rich, so that by his poverty you might become rich." (2 Corinthians 8:9)
But soon enough, magi* from the east arrived and guided by the star of Bethlehem, they entered “the house” which they had transferred to from Jesus’ original place of birth. There they saw the Child Jesus with Mary, His mother (Matthew 2:1, 9).
They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.** (Matthew 2:11)
December 2018 finds us still in a global crisis. Oil is more expensive now and its supply is low. It is not difficult to imagine the problems that can come from a decrease in oil supply or a rise in prices. Almost everything will go up like the cost of food, transport, land/sea/air fares, price of vehicles and spare parts, real estate, house rentals, entertainment, electricity, clothes, newspapers and other publications, hotel and lodging accommodations, tourism expenses, tolls, communication, construction, etc.
We really cannot presume that what the world predicts will always happen. Actually, anything can happen — good or bad. But the Bible says that “all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28) and that “if God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).
What, now, for the Christian who wishes to be victorious in the midst of crises?
We have to believe that we are children of God. While forces of evil or unfavorable circumstances may wish to prevent us from receiving our heritage in these difficult times, we can take authority over them, in the mighty name of Jesus and claim, for example, that God will fully supply whatever we need, in accord with His glorious riches in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).
If we are hoping that God be generous to us, let us be generous to Him.
In generous spirit pay homage to the Lord, be not sparing of freewill gifts. Give to the Most High as he has given to you, generously according to your means. For the Lord is one who always repays. (Sirach 35:7, 9-10; see also Luke 6:38)
To those who have little knowledge of kingdom living, they can start with Scripture, which promises, “Ask and it will be given to you” (Matthew 7:7).
We should, however, see to it that we are in right standing with God, meaning, that we relate to Jesus Christ as our personal Savior and Lord, and that we are seeking His will.
Let me conclude by pointing out one very powerful spiritual principle in Scripture which is available to every practicing Christian, rich or poor, learned or unlearned, adult or a young person, male or female, professional or student:
His divine power has bestowed on us everything that makes for life and devotion, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and power. (2 Peter 1:3)
With a fresh Christian outlook, we can look to a future full of hope this Christmas, whatever our circumstances may be, the promise being, that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans10:13).
** The astrologers gave these expensive gifts because they were worthy presents for
a future king. Bible students have seen in the gifts symbols of Christ’s identity and
what He would accomplish. Gold was a gift for a king; frankincense, a gift for deity;
myrrh, a spice for a mortal man who was going to die. These gifts may have
provided the financial resources for the family’s trip to Egypt and back. (Footnote
for Matthew 2:11, Life Application Bible, page 1322).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bro Willy Nakar is Presiding Elder of Elim Communities and a servant-leader in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. He and his wife, Luli, founded Elim Communities, and are prime examples of how God can use surrendered individuals to impact the world. Having encountered the Lord in a personal way in 1980, they have learned to apply spiritual principles in their lives and have experienced numerous victories. Together with their family, they have dedicated their time, talents and resources for the spread of the Gospel in the country and abroad. They are the happy grandparents of seven grandchildren.