A Christmas postcard published by Shantivanam in the 1990s
GLORY TO GOD AND PEACE ON THE EARTH
A Christmas Message from Brother John Martin Sahajananda
Happy and Merry Christmas to all Sangha members and the readers
When Jesus Christ was born, the angels appeared and sang, ‘ Glory to God in the highest and peace to the people of good will on the earth’. We find here two important messages: glory to God and peace on the earth. These two messages are interconnected. We cannot have one without the other. The birth of the Son of God gives glory to God and bring peace on the earth.
The purpose of our human existence is to give glory to God. In the prayer that Jesus taught to his disciples, the first statement is: Father, may your name be glorified. It means, O God, may people see you in my life and glorify you. Who can give glory to God? only the Son of God or the Daughter of God can give glory to God. Who can bring peace on the earth? only the Son of God or the Daughter of God can bring peace on the earth, in the world. The Son of God or the Daughter of God is not so much a gender but Universal Consciousness that is united with God, with the whole of creation and with the whole of humanity and lives its life for the welfare of the whole of creation. It is like a leaf which realizes its unity with the whole tree and lives its life for the welfare of the whole tree. Jesus Christ was the Son of God. His life gave glory to God and his vision saw unity and peace already there but need to be discovered.
St. Paul said very beautifully that Jesus Christ came into the world to proclaim peace. In fact, he himself was peace. How did you do that? By breaking down the wall of division and created one humanity in the place of two (Jews and Gentiles at that time), and thus he brought peace in the world. Jesus Christ broke down the walls of division and created one God, one creation and one humanity. He was unity and peace. His message brings unity and peace. The Son of God or the Daughter of God is Unity and unity brings peace. Every human being has the potential to grow into the son of God or the Daughter of God. Jesus Christ was the first fruits of realizing this potentiality.
St. Paul also said that the whole of creation is eagerly groaning to give birth to the sons and daughters of God. In this sense the purpose of the whole evolutionary process of creation is to give birth to the sons and daughters of God, whose life gives glory to God and brings peace on the earth. This birth was possible because of a spiritual virgin. This is the central message of Christmas but it has many other messages to communicate.
Christmas, the birth of Christ, gives us hope. Christmas happened in the most difficult situations of life. During the time of Christ, the Palestine was under many oppressions. Palestine was under Roman occupation. People had no political freedom. They were longing for freedom. There was economic oppression, the division between the rich and the poor. There was religious oppression. Religious leaders oppressed people in the name of God and religion. There was moral oppression. People divided as righteous and unrighteous, those who followed the Law and those who did not follow the follow. In that turbulent situation God entered into the world. The call came to an innocent, insignificant girl to be a vehicle of Gods birth, vehicle of incarnation. This shows the unconditional love of God. God always takes the first step.
Today we are also in turbulent times. The corona pandemic upset all our establishments. In many countries people have become poor without proper jobs and income, depending on generous contributions from others. Many people are falling into depression, losing their hope and purpose in life. People are confined to remain in isolation in their homes without any social interaction. There are also political and religious conflicts. We have seen how a small incident of showing a cartoon in France provoked a major crisis. The good news is that God can enter into the world in turbulent situations either global or individual, in our insignificant lives. God can be born within us if we open our hearts in our isolation and insignificance. God is knocking at our doors. We just need to open them.
There are many eternal truths that Christmas reveals to us. Christmas reveals that the ultimate purpose of creation is to give birth to the sons and daughters of God, ultimately unity with God. The sons and daughters of God give glory to God and bring unity and peace in the world. The sons and daughters of God are those who live in the universal consciousness, who live for the welfare of the whole of creation. The quality or archetype of virginity plays an important place in this process of giving birth to the sons and daughters of God. Virginity is not limited to the physical virginity but also extends to psychological and spiritual virginity. Virginity does not seek its continuity. It always opens beyond itself.
The call that came to Virgin Mary is a call that comes to the whole of creation. This call did not begin with Mary and does not end with Mary. It began with the Big Bang; with matter. It is virginity that propels creation to reach its ultimate destiny, from the Big Bang to incarnation, the birth of the sons and daughters of God and ultimately unity with God. Primary energy at the Big Bang has to become a virgin to bring forth matter. Matter has to become a virgin to give birth to vegetation. Vegetation has to become a virgin to give birth to animal world. Animal world has to become a virgin to give birth to self- conscious human beings. Self-conscious Human beings have to become virgins to give birth to philosophical and religious human beings. Religious human beings have to become virgins to give birth to sons and daughters of God. The sons and daughters of God have to become virgins to be united with God, to say ‘ I and God are one or God alone is’. Without virginity evolution cannot progress.
The opposite of a virgin is King Herod. King Herod seeks his or her own continuity. He stops the growth or evolutionary process. He is called the murderer of life, the innocent children. If matter seeks only its continuity then it is like Herod, no vegetation is possible. If vegetation seeks only its continuity it is like Herod. No animal world is possible. If the animal world seeks only its continuity it is like Herod. No self-conscious beings are possible. If self-conscious human beings seek only their continuity they are like Herod. No philosophical and religious human beings are possible. If philosophical and religious human beings seek only their continuity then they are like Herod. No sons and daughters of God are possible. If sons and daughters of God seek only their continuity they become like Herod. The unity with God is not possible. The evolution of creation has to evolve until a person says: the Father (God) and I are one. That is the ultimate goal. This happened in Jesus Christ in the Biblical tradition. Herod stops growth and a virgin promotes growth. At every level we can choose to be Herod or Virgin Marty, to kill life or to give life.
Time is called to become a virgin so that it gives birth to eternity. The process of evolution belongs to Time. Time has to evolve and finally has to become the vehicle of eternity. If time seeks its continuity then Time becomes Herod. If time, as past, seeks its continuity, it kills the innocent present. The present has no life of its own but only a vehicle for the past to go to the future. Herod is called murderer of innocent children, innocent present, for choosing it for his continuity. A virgin, as past, choses the present for eternity, for God. She facilitates growth. She is a life giver. She gives life to the present. When Christ began his ministry, the first statement he made was, in the gospel of Mark, the Time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is at hand. The Time has become a virgin and opened to eternity. The time has given birth to eternity. The kingdom of God, the eternity, is here and now. The vocation of Time is to transform itself as the vehicle of eternity. For this Time needs to become a spiritual virgin.
All physical parents are called to become spiritual virgins. As I said above virginity is not limited to physical virginity but extends to psychological and spiritual levels. The call that came to Mary (and Joseph), to be virgin parents, comes to all physical parents. Until the time of Mary and Joseph, parents appropriated children as their children. But Mary and Joseph said: this child is not our child but God’s child. We are only foster parents to God’s child. At that moment they became virgin parents. In fact, all children belong to God. Human parents are only like nannies or foster parents to God’s children. Physical parents should choose their children for God. They should not use their children to fulfill their ambitions. If physical parents impose their ambitions and goals on their children then they become like Herod, murderers of innocent children. Abraham tried to do that. He tried to use Isaac to be his continuity. His desire for his continuity killed Isaac. Abraham was like Herod. God told him to renounce his desire for continuity and choose Isaac for eternity. God wanted Abraham to be a spiritual virgin. By accepting to die without future and by choosing Isaac for eternity Abraham also lived for eternity. He became a spiritual virgin. Hence the call that came to Mary and Joseph comes all physical parents. In this way all physical parents become virgin parents. Every birth needs to be celebrated as Christmas. Christmas is not a past event happened two thousand years ago but it happens at every birth if parents become spiritual virgins.
All religions are called to become spiritual virgins. Virginity is not limited to individuals but also extends to all institutions including religious institutions. Religions are meant to be like nannies or foster parents to God’s children. All religious followers belong to God. Religions, as foster parents, should nourish their followers for God. This means all followers should be brought up as children of God. If religions seek their continuity and bring up followers belonging to a particular religion then they become like Herod, taking away the uniqueness and dignity of their followers. To bring up children belonging to a particular religion is to sow the seeds of division and conflict in the world. Children will grow with their religious identities and religious boundaries. When there is a boundary there is a potential for conflict. If all children are brought up as God’s children then we sow the seeds of unity and peace in the world. Hence all religions are called to become virgin religions. Atheists thinks that religious education of children is an abuse as religions condition children. When all children are brought up as God’s children there is no place for abuse.
All great persons are called virgin great persons. All great persons or enlightened masters should be virgin great persons. They should not seek their continuity but point towards the freedom, uniqueness and originality of eternity. If great persons seek their continuity then they become like Herod, killing their followers, taking away their uniqueness, originality and creativity. A follower is a second hand human being. Jesus Christ was a virgin master. He lived a first hand human life and wanted everyone to live the same life. I am the way, the truth and the life, he declared. He wanted everyone to declare the same. He wanted everyone to be free, original and creative. He washed the feet of his disciples to show that he was at their service. He said: I no longer call you my servants or my disciples but I call you my friends. It is unfortunate that a virgin master has been transformed by the Christian tradition into Herod, who seeks his continuity, who wants his disciples to say: Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life.
God always wishes to be a virgin God. For this God needs the cooperation of human beings, human virginity. God or Truth has two aspects: eternal or historical. When Moses asked God his name, first God said: I am what I am. It was the eternal aspect of God. It was difficult for Moses to understand and to relate with. So God told him: I am the God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob. It was the historical aspect of God, the God manifested in time and space. The historical aspect of God is like a nest to prepare people to grow into the God of eternity. People reduce the God of history as the God of eternity and wish to give continuity to the God of history. This God becomes like Herod, desiring his continuity, demanding the submission of will and intellect and loyalty. This God divides humanity and becomes the source of division, conflict and wars. A spiritual virgin transcends the God of history and gives birth to the God of eternity, I am what I am. Christ said: before Abraham was I am. He transcended the God of history and manifested the God of eternity. If human mind is like Herod it makes God also into Herod. If human mind is a virgin it makes God a virgin God. It is God ‘s desire to remain a virgin God. For this, human beings need to become spiritual virgins. Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ were spiritual virgins. They manifested the virgin God. They are models for our spiritual life in the prophetic tradition.
Every individual needs to be a spiritual virgin. The vocation of every human being is to be the son and daughter of God, to be the vehicle of God. It is to transform one’s life into God’s life, one’s actions into God’s actions. A spiritual virgin will say: my life is not my life but God’s life, my actions are not my actions but God’s actions. It is no longer I that live but God lives in me. Jesus Christ said: the works that I do are not mine but the Father who dwells in me does his works. He was a spiritual virgin. He was giving birth to God each moment of his life. Each moment of his life was Christmas. God wishes that human beings celebrate each moment as Christmas, each action as the birth of God.
Christmas is not a feast only for Christians. It is the destiny of every creature, every human being. Every creature celebrates this Christmas in and through human beings. When human beings will become spiritual virgins, every creature will sing: glory to God in the highest and peace to the people of good will on the earth. There is celebration and sharing of gifts. The three wise men brought gifts and presented to Child Jesus. The shepherd came and offered their gifts to child Jesus. We need to see child Jesus in the crib of every human heart, specially those who are in need, and offer our gifts to that child Jesus. Everyone should become a Santa Clause, carrying gifts to child Jesus living in the heart of every person.
Christmas is the birth of the sons and daughters of God. The sons and daughters of God give glory to God and bring peace on the earth. They break down all the divisions and create one God, one creation and one humanity. They are unity and peace and carry with them the message of unity and peace to the world. They try to liberate people from all oppressive structures: political, economical, social, religious and ecological and try to establish a society of equality, justice, peace, freedom and universal brotherhood. They are spiritual activists, transformers of the world according to the plan of God.
May this turbulent time of corona pandemic facilitate us to enter into our solitude and transform ourselves into spiritual virgins and give birth to the consciousness of the son of God or the daughter of God or Universal consciousness.
May our lives be a glory to God and bring peace on the earth. When this happens the angles will appear and sing: glory to God in the highest and peace to the people of goodwill on the earth. God also celebrates Christmas with us. Our Christmas becomes God’s Christmas.
I wish you all again a Happy and merry Christmas. May you all become spiritual virgins and give birth to Christ. May your hearts be filled with peace and joy of Child Jesus, the eternal word of God. May you and all your family members live the life of incarnation. May you all become the bearers of the good news of God’s unconditional love. May your life give glory to God and bring peace on the earth. Amen.
Br. John Martin Sahajananda