26 Dec 2019  |   05:14am IST

Jesus the divine gift to mankind

Shanti Maria Fonseca

 “A man who was completely innocent, offered himself as a sacrifice for the good of others, including his enemies, and became the ransom of the world.  It was a perfect act”. 

– Mahatma Gandhi

Jesus of Nazareth is one of the persons most feared and revered in history. King 

   Herod panicked even before the baby Jesus was born.  He shed more light on matters human and divine than all philosophers and scholars, combined.  Socrates taught for 40 years, Plato for 50, Aristotle for 40 and Jesus for only 3.  Yet the influence of Christ’s three year ministry infinitely surpasses the impact left by the combined 130 years of teaching from these men who are considered to be the world’s greatest minds. He spoke such words of life as were never spoken.  Who was He?  Why was he considered a threat to the Jewish religion and the Roman power?  What was so amazingly attractive about him that people thronged to take a glimpse of him?  Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all of history. World History itself has been divided by the greatest event in human history; namely, the birth of Jesus Christ (B.C/A.D.).  He wrote no book on his life and teachings and yet the Bible remains the ‘Greatest Love story ever told’.

The life of Jesus is bracketed by two impossibilities: “a virgin’s womb and an empty tomb”.  Unlike John the Baptist who came with fasting and penance, Jesus went about eating and dining with people.  He even provided the additional better wine at Cana.  He could rejoice with those who rejoiced and weep with those who wept.  He was an excellent story teller.  His stories/parables have a profound meaning and have stood the test of 2000 years of re-telling.  Jesus was a person who lived for others.  He was loving and loveable; kind and serviceable to others.  He was friendly, open and understanding to all.  He welcomed those in difficulty to come to him.  He went out of his way to help people.   

From the gospels we see Jesus as a many-sided personality.  He cannot be contained within one type of character or on one school of spirituality.  He was strong and uncompromising in his stand against injustice and the abuse of power by religious leaders.  He could be devastatingly ironical and sarcastic in his critique of evil, especially of hypocrisy and exploitation. He called Herod a “fox”, and the Pharisees “a brood of vipers”.  Jesus lived in a particular social setting. He reached out to address certain social classes, especially those of the oppressed and the rejected.  An approach such as this should provide the perfect model for the church and Christians today.      For Jesus the kingdom of God is a situation in which sin, selfishness, untruth and injustice are overcome and love, mercy, truth, justice and peace will triumph and rule.

Jesus was a carpenter.  He earned his living most of the days of his life as an Artisan. His tender years were spent in political exile due to the regime of King Herod.  His foster parents Joseph and Mary were migrant workers in a foreign land – Jews in Egypt.  The work of Christ is the core thread between the kingdom here and now, and the kingdom yet to come. If we are to strive towards walking in the footsteps of Christ then working for peace in our world becomes an obligation. That earthly life continues to be so brutal for so many is unacceptable. The faith in Jesus our Liberator should impel Christians to take up the cause of those who suffer economic injustice, cultural backwardness or any other form of human misery or deprivation. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus decreed: “I was hungry  and you gave me food”, and not “ Ï was hungry and you preached patience to me”.

Christians are called to fully live “the Values of the Gospel” (Redemptoris Missio 20) - as in hope we all journey together towards the final kingdom.  Christ’s liberating work continues through the church. Through working for a world situation whereby individuals will be freed from an oppressive and slave- like bondage. The work of Christ, the Liberator, is the core thread between the kingdom here and now and the kingdom yet to come. Truth is not simply about objectivity, but includes solidarity. Jesus offers life with real meaning. He said that life is much more than making money, having fun, being successful, and then ending up in the graveyard. Life is about what happens beyond the grave. It is about knowing the God who made you and who gave you the greatest gift you will ever receive.

One of the important teachings of Christ was the notion of social sin.  As Disciples of Christ we are bound to live our life in a particular way.What is that way?  In Ignatius of Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises, there’s a reflection in which St. Ignatius invites a person to stand before the cross of Jesus and repeatedly ask, “What have I done to crucify you?”  During this season of Christmas let us look at the crucified people of our world and ask them the same question:  What do I need to do to make life more meaningful and less miserable for them?  Christmas is not just a day an event to be observed and speedily forgotten. It is a spirit which should permeate every part of our lives. The very purpose of Christ’s coming into the world was so that he could offer his life as a sacrifice for the sins of men. He came to die.  This is the heart of Christmas.  Yes! God so loved the world that He gave his only son to us – A perfect Christmas Gift. 

(The writer a social scientist holds a diploma in Theology)


Iddhar Udhar