A Christmas message
from Mahatma Gandhi
(Note: Our friend Fr Dr. Anthoniraj Thumma from Hyderabad, Executive director of Ecumenism forwarded this timely message to us. Feast days does not mean fasting days are over. No pain, no gain, no crown without cross. It is good to an optimist, bad to be a pessimist, more important is to be a realist. That is what Gandhiji was always. Hence his words: “miraculous birth (of Jesus) is an eternal event, so is the Cross an eternal event in this stormy life. Therefore, we dare not think of birth without death on the cross. Living Christ means a living Cross, without it life is a living death.” In a terror stricken world, everywhere, even in the city of Light Paris, how can anyone honestly say there is peace on earth and sing glory to God? So let us not go overboard either with our rejoicing or with our weeping. Life here below has to be a mixture of day and night, of roses and thorns. A rose blossoms only at the end of a stem of thorns james kottoor, editor)
On December 25, 1931, as he was returning by ship to India after the Second Round Table Conference in London, Gandhiji was asked by Christian passengers to give them a talk. Following are some excerpts from his message:
“All glory to God on High and on the earth be peace,” there seems to be today neither glory to God nor peace on earth. As long as it remains a hunger still unsatisfied, as long as Christ is not yet born, we have to look forward to Him. When real peace is established, we will not need demonstrations, but it will be echoed in our life, not only in individual life, but in corporate life.
Then we shall say Christ is born. That to me is the real meaning of the verse we have sung. Then we will not think of a particular day in the year as that of the birth of the Christ, but as an ever-recurring event which can be enacted in every life… It consists in the living of life, never ceasing, ever progressing towards peace.
When, therefore, one wishes “A Happy Christmas” without the meaning behind it, it becomes nothing more than an empty formula. And unless one wishes for peace for all life, one cannot wish for peace for oneself. It is a self-evident axiom, like the axioms of Euclid, that one cannot have peace unless there is in one an intense longing for peace all around.
You may certainly experience peace in the midst of strife, but that happens only when to remove strife you destroy your whole life, you crucify yourself. And so, as the miraculous birth is an eternal event, so is the Cross an eternal event in this stormy life. Therefore, we dare not think of birth without death on the cross. Living Christ means a living Cross, without it life is a living death. Published in Harijan, on 31-12-1931