The Divine is the impulse and motivation at Christmas—exercising Itself, honoring one of its special sons. Humanity easily cooperates because the folk aspect of the season is mixed with the religious. So the spirit of Christmas has effectively joined itself with the end-of-the-year Winter Solstice, touching a deep folk chord in humanity while celebrating the birth of a God-Man.
Christmas—the birth of more than a man—a savior, a Divine Principle is embodied in the birth of Jesus Christ. It is the Soul... the Divine come to earth to show man what man is like!
During ordinary, crowded hours we are not able to contemplate such a life as Christ’s with anything like an adequate temper of mind, but rather in calm, secret, solitary times we can do so. Midnight, dawn, in the hush of Christmas Eve, of Christmas Night, that fills the Western world—nay, any part of the world where Christ is worshiped—at such auspicious times we contemplate that charismatic night in Bethlehem 2000 years ago … and not only his birth, but his life: all the words, the events, the crises that followed.
As we meditate upon this mysterious existence, we may gradually find ourselves meditating upon the mystery of our own. Wrapped in deepest mystery, indeed, is our own existence—as is the recollection of it as we reminisce, ponder, trace over the strange patterns we have woven together to make up the design of what we call our life. Odd, that in thinking so intensely with such powerful intuitions filling our consciousness, during the stillness of Christmas Eve, of Christ’s appearance, we may find ourselves thinking of our own lives as well, as though the life we have lived is somehow related to the archetypal life that began in Bethlehem, is a part of the same continuing greater life of the Divine in the world of manifested things.
According to Vedanta philosophy, Thou art the Soul in all souls. The heart of Christ is yours, not in a figurative sense but in an actual sense. He belongs to us. He is us. This Vedantic view is supported by Christ’s own sayings: He that hath seen me hath seen the Father … Know ye not that ye are Gods, children of the most high… Be ye therefore perfect even as your Father in Heaven is perfect … The Kingdom of Heaven is within you.
Christ has been called the Savior, but each of us may be one—prophets, all. Burden-bearers. World-supporters. On a smaller scale than his, no doubt, but in principle there is no essential difference. He but does on a world scale what spiritual aspirants are all doing, each in his or her own way, on the little stage of our individual lives, burdened as we are with so many trials, sufferings, tediums, miseries. Each of us is the savior of our family, children, parents, relatives, close friends, who have not yet begun to lead the life of the Spirit as we have. They are always looking, watching, waiting. They depend on our dedication, endurance, perseverance, faith, spiritual practices―our willingness to tread the heroic path to the end. For them we play the role that Christ played for the world—the principle is the same. The same life is in us as in him, only less intensified, less powerful in its vibrations, less commanding in its effect. But not essentially different.
We see, then, that with an act of spiritual imagination we may be able this Christmas to bring Christ closer to us than ever before, make him part of us and we part of him—part of his life, his high destiny—as we realize, in that act of creative imagination, the implications of the ultimate truth of the Upanishads: Thou Art That.
Excerpt from a lecture on Christ by Paul Hourihan, edited by Anna Hourihan.