Jesus is known, worshipped and adored in many lands. Just as nations, culture and spiritual activity is different in many lands, so also, the Source of the All reveals itself in ways that suit the minds in that society, this culture. This is what shapes spirituality. Here, we note some of the different sources about Jesus-Isa, and draw parallels from Pope Francis at Midnight Mass and the teachings of Sri Sathya Sai.
The New Testament speaks of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem – fulfilment of a prophecy of old that a saviour born of the lineage of King David would come forth from Bethlehem, the least of the towns of Galilee.
There was a star – which appears every 800 years or so. This star led the Magi – the first to recognise Jesus and his divinity – to the place of his birth. The Magi – often called the Three Kings – were not of the tribe of Judah; they were not Christians, they were not gentiles and nor were they pagans. They were amritputrya, children of immortality, following their inner guidance. In this wise, they give the symbolic meaning that all are called to recognise the inner light and let that inner light be their guidance, the pathway through life to the goal of life.
This year, Pope Francis gave one sermon in Rome at the “Midnight Mass” – the traditional time the Church celebrates the birth of Jesus. The Pope said that God does not rise up in grandeur, but lowers Himself into littleness. Sri Sathya Sai was born in Puttaparthi, in a poverty stricken village, born a human with superhuman powers. Sri Sathya Sai and Jesus were not born into grandeur nor any royal state.
The Pope went on to say that the birth of the Divine we call Jesus – in obscurity – is God lowering himself to state of Man. While “God lowers Himself…we try to become great,” he said, recalling the birth of Jesus in the midst of the shepherds and the poor. “God does not seek power and might; He asks for tender love and interior littleness.” Sri Sathya Sai has often said that great works and ostentatious service is not important: God looks to the heart whilst the deed is done. It is the feelings in the heart that draw the presence of the Divine, the grace of the Divine.
“All is One” is a famous saying of the perennial philosophy. Mother Teresa had a particular gift of the spirit, a charism: that charism was the gift of seeing Jesus in the eyes and in the hearts of the very poor, the outcast, the abandoned babies, like this. At the Midnight Mass, Pope Francis spoke in similar vein. The Pope said that “We too are called to embrace Jesus in the little ones of today,” by loving Him in the least of our brothers and sisters, the poor, forgotten, and needy, as in them He makes Himself known.
Sanathana Dharma tells us Ekam sat; vipraah bahuuda vadanti: “Everything is one, the wise know that it is called by many names.” The Pope recalled that at the Christmas scene, we also glimpse the Magi coming to worship the Lord, the learned and rich, showing how Jesus brings together the rich and the poor in Bethlehem. “Everything is unified when Jesus is at the centre: not our ideas about Jesus, but Jesus himself, the living One.” So also, we are all called to see the Divinity in the hearts and minds of the other and recognise that the inner resident of the other is the inner resident of our own Self: God is everywhere, God is every thing.
Tradition-minded and egoistic men considered Jesus a false prophet and they tried by every means to thwart His mission. Jesus, however, did not waver. Faced with opposition, He continued to be an example of living Truth, and to purify society. Many disciples followed Jesus but throughout history, it has been the experience of Rama, Krishna, Jesus and Muhammad that disciples however close are seldom fully dedicated. Most are only part-time devotees. Jesus had 12 disciples, most of whom had faith in Him and lived His teachings. But Judas yielded to greed. He betrayed his Master for a mere 30 coins. He could not find joy in life after this treachery. His mind gave him no peace. He had to seek refuge in suicide. Betrayal by people who pretend to adore is happening since ages.
Corrupt, greedy and selfish people spread falsehoods about their own Masters. We hear of a Judas, 2000 years ago. But in the Kali Age, people are obsessed with money and Judases have multiplied. They seek to amass paltry riches whereas good character, good conduct and knowledge of God are the three real treasures to be gathered. Land and buildings, silver and gold, dollars and other currencies are temporary and trivial. They are possessions only until life lasts. But those three treasures will stay on, sustain and strengthen you until you attain union with the Infinite. – Sri Sathya Sai Baba, December 25, 1979
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