It may sound strange to you but I always find it hard to preach about Christmas and Easter, maybe because they really speak for themselves. Christmas and Easter are really two halves of the same event. God the Son comes among us in the person of Jesus in order to teach us about God, why we were created and what God asks of us and then to sacrifice himself for us so that we might have eternal happiness with him. He does this for no other reason than that He loves us. With all that’s happening in the world at the moment I think we need to hear that message often. What awaits us, if we choose it, is something wonderful beyond our wildest dreams and we must never lose sight of that. That is what helps us to keep going when nothing else makes sense.
I want to share with you a story I heard from an old Dominican priest I lived with for a year. His name is Simon Roche and he spent 25 years in India and had many fascinating experiences of faith there. He told me the following story about a young girl called Asha.
Asha, who was a Brahman (high cast) and a Hindu, went to Mary Immaculate school. As happens with many children there she got encephalitis, a disease which causes the brain to swell. Apparently about 500 children in India die from it each year. Asha got encephalitis in Nov and had to be hospitalised. She quickly began to deteriorate. In mid December she went into a coma and on the 23rd Dec the doctors said she was not going to improve. She only had a short time to live.
On Christmas eve, her mother who was staying in the hospital in a bed beside her, saw lots of different coloured lights over her bed and a man standing with his hands extended over her daughter. The next day, Christmas day, Asha woke up at 7.30am for the first time. She asked her mother for something to eat. Then she said, ‘What day is today?’ Her mother said it was the 25th of December. Asha said, ‘Today is the day of the Christians. Can you turn on the radio so I can hear some of the Christians’ songs.’ The doctors were astonished and had no explanation for what had happened. Asha was completely healed.
About a week later the mother came to the convent school even though it was still closed for Christmas and asked to see the head mistress. She said to her, ‘I think your Jesus healed my Asha.’ And she said, ‘Do you have a picture of Jesus?’ The sister showed her a picture on the wall but she said, ‘No that’s not him.’ 10 days later Asha’s mother was back in the school for something and she happened to see on the wall a picture of a man getting into a boat. It was a picture of Jesus getting into a boat in Galilee. She pointed up at the wall and said, ‘That’s him. He is the one who healed my Asha.’
‘The Word was made flesh and lived among us
and we saw his glory.’
Jesus, the Word of the eternal Father, is still among us.