“This is the Kingdom of Love” – Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith
Behold, the Lion of Judah! The Messiah, who came first as a child, but returns not as a child, but now as King of Kings, to rule in power and glory forever! – Rev. 21-4.
Jesus was not a politician or a businessman or a general. He came to earth to save us from our sins. He came to give us freedom and to spread the message of Love and the Kingdom of God. The best lessons we can learn this Christmas are from the life of Jesus himself. We learn about the importance of compassion because Jesus preached and practiced compassion. The gospels themselves state that he healed a paralyzed man (Matthew 9:6). He healed a Leper (Matthew 8:2). He had compassion on the demon possessed (Mathew 8:28). Right throughout He gave to others.
The Daily News spoke to Cardinal of the Catholic Church, Archbishop of Colombo, His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith on the true meaning and the power of Christmas.
“Jesus Christ has been foretold by the Prophets in the Old Testament as the person who is the Messiah who is the anointed one of God, who will come to earth to liberate human beings from all forms of slavery, especially from the slavery of the heart, from slavery from Egoism and Sin and the powers of death. He is the saviour. This has been said in the scriptures that is the Holy Bible, and he himself claimed that he came to earth to save us,” said His Eminence Cardinal Ranjith.
Jesus was born in a manger in such lowly circumstances. One would think that it was the most inappropriate place for a king to be born. But Jesus came to establish a spiritual kingdom and not an earthly one.
“When Jesus was taken before Pilate, and when Pilate questioned him –‘are you a king’? Jesus said – ‘Yes I am the king but I am not a king of this world. If I was a king of this world my adherents would never have allowed you to capture me like that. But my Kingdom is a spiritual Kingdom where there is Justice, Peace, Love and understanding.’ These are the values he came on earth to establish, changing the heart of man to accept that there is something more to life than eating, drinking and living,” stated the Cardinal.
Divine and Spiritual realities
Christ died a horrible death on the cross. Yet there was no other way. He came to earth to reconcile god and man. That too teaches us a lesson about relationships. We must have humility in our relationships with others.
“In fact they crucified him, and when they crucified him they put a message on top – Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. That crucifix is the throne on which he hung. His kingdom is not a worldly Kingdom. If it was a worldly Kingdom, he would be sitting on a throne, not on a cross. That is the Kingdom Jesus came to establish. A Kingdom that is close to Divine and Spiritual realities,” pointed His Eminence Cardinal Ranjith.
This Christmas His Eminence Cardinal Ranjith wanted to convey a special message – which is fighting our selfishness. The Cardinal placed great emphasis on our selfishness that we have to struggle with. He attributes many of the problems we face today to selfishness. The youth must be especially mindful of this, this Christmas. Christmas is a time for giving because God gave his life to us.
“There is so much selfishness around us. Many people are suffering ravages of this selfishness. It is found in the smaller level and as well as in the bigger level. All human beings are tempted to be selfish. The youth need to create a new culture. It should not be a society which is just socially emancipated. It should be something that is more profound and something more interior. That is the message I can give the youth. The youth need to works towards that. First start with yourself. We need to create a new society which is honest, sincere, which is altruistic, not thinking all the time about self but thinking about the others. To create that you need spiritual power. So we challenge the young people to gain spiritual power and change society,” explained His Eminence Cardinal Ranjith.
His Eminence Cardinal Ranjith spoke of change, saying that first by changing ourselves we can change the others. The Cardinal word touch one’s heart deeply when he says that every single person who is oppressed and harassed must be freed. Every single patient who is in the hospital must be helped to recover. That is Christmas. It you take the Little Hearts Project in Sri Lanka, we must make sacrifices for those children. We must help others. The best way to celebrate Christmas is by helping others.
“Commercialization of Christmas is a very sad thing. People are only focused on putting up these images of Santa Claus and concentrate on sales, Christmas concerts and gala dinners, which have nothing to do with Christmas. All these things are commercialization of Christmas. This is not the most important thing. Christmas speaks to us about the birth of a humble child. The child who changed the world. Every single child must be loved. That is Christmas which is loving our children,” added His Eminence Cardinal Ranjith.
The most important part of the Ministry of Jesus, is when He spoke about the Kingdom of God and not the Kingdom of Man. He mentioned the word Kingdom many times, and it is found 151 times in the New Testament. He came to earth to establish the kingdom of God, not Man’s Kingdom. Man’s Kingdom is selfish. People who built Kingdoms here on earth, they wore crowns. They oppressed their people. Jesus wore the crown of the cross. He did not oppress anybody. He came to speak about love and service. He spoke about so many values.
“Another humbling thing we can learn about Jesus is his capacity to forgive. Jesus said love your enemies, pray for them and bless them, and he did that on the cross. He prayed for those who nailed him to the cross. This is the Kingdom of Love, Mercy, humanity that he came to bring,” said His Eminence Cardinal Ranjith.
God chose Mary to bear his child according to his own divine wisdom. She was a woman of admirable faith. Mary was God’s choice. Because God says in the Old Testament- ‘Your ways are not my ways’. ‘Your thoughts are not my thoughts’. Mary had deep faith in God. And so he chose her to conceive his son. Not because she was from a rich family or a noble family. They were quite normal people. But God’s choice fell on her.
God’s love for us has always been sincere and powerful. One big lie is that God does not love us. And this Christmas time we need to believe that he is a god of miracles and a god who wants a relationship with us. God has the power to change the circumstances we are in no matter how tough and impossible they may seem. We need to remember that this Christmas.
Love towards humanity
“He made man in his own image because of the love he felt for humanity. He created creation by uttering a word as spoken in the book of Genesis. But he created man by making him from the earth in his own image and likeness and giving him his own breath. He created man as a very special creature. He loved humanity. He invited man to live in his own garden. But man defied him and disobeyed him. And thereby man condemned himself. Now he restores humanity by dying on the cross. On the tree humanity fell and on the tree humanity arose. That is the tree of the cross,” explained His Eminence Cardinal Ranjith.
All the religions in this planet are religions that have helped humanity to rise up from the ashes of selfishness to something noble. All religions are like the sun whose rays fall on the budding little flowers that are growing in the muddy pond. These are beautiful flowers because they open to the sun. Therefore all religions can help us to rise up from our struggles. (Ishara Jayawardane, Picture by Saman Sri Wedage)