For the welfare of all humanity
Christmas Day is a celebration of the birth of Christ. But even as we focus on this moment in the life of this spiritual leader, in the back of our minds is the haunting knowledge that he won’t live long. Although he looks cherubic in his manger lined with straw, we know he’ll experience a cruel death before he turns 34. He is to be a sacrifice. So there is a hint of sadness amidst all the joy.
In the past, a sacrifice required a priest with a strong stomach, a reluctant victim (lamb, goat, person) and an altar upon which to do the bloody deed. The modern meaning of the word is to give up something to achieve something else – for example, to sacrifice going to a party to study for an exam or to sacrifice a lime-green Lamborghini so you can afford to have 1.93 children.
An interesting aspect of the Christ story is that although he experienced difficult moments during the ordeal, he willingly sacrificed himself. He didn’t sacrifice an event (party) or an object (Lamborghini). He decided he could do without himself.
In Jack Hawley’s 2001 translation of the spiritual Hindu classic, The Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna explains the word sacrifice thus:
Sacrifice . . . means offering, helping, and being dedicated to the welfare of all humanity. It implies a mutuality of existence with all other beings. Sacrifice in this spiritual meaning of the word is a universal rule, a fundamental law of nature; sacrifice as the spirit of giving, which permeates all of creation.
Physical life is full of sacrifice. Lord Krishna talking to Arjuna again:
. . . all living creatures are nourished and sustained by food; food is nourished and sustained by rain; rain, the water of life, emanates from nature, called down from heaven, freely given (sacrificed) for the eventual benefit of humanity. All of life, Arjuna, is therefore born of, nourished, and sustained by selfless action, by sacrifice.
I am surrounded by selfless action, by sacrifice. All physical things disintegrate. My water tanks will ultimately dissolve, my wooden fence posts rot, the lake will dry up and my car will rust. Trees on the property will crash to the ground to become soil, and my body will turn to dust. All these things will happen automatically. It’s built into the fabric of physical existence.
But the message of Christ’s life is to choose to sacrifice oneself daily, moment by moment, for the benefit of all humanity, like he did.
As he commanded all who would follow him, we are to love one another as ourselves. When we do this, our lives are a daily sacrifice.
Further on in the Bhagavad Gita:
Sacrifice is the noblest form of action.
Christ’s life and Lord Krishna’s words reveal the same truth.
At an elemental level, sacrifice isn’t self-denial. It’s giving.
It’s a gifting of the self.
For the sake of others.
With love, Marlane