It is once again the season of hope. It is once more the season of light; the season of love and of peace. It is that time of the year when families and friends gather together to make merry in welcoming the birth of the Savior.
Nothing gives us more hope than the story of the Son of God coming into this world to show us the way and to redeem our souls by paying the ultimate price with his own blood.
The lessons we can draw from this universal story are numerous.
The first is one of humility. A pregnant Mary, accompanied by her husband, Joseph, traveled miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem, ostensibly to be registered in a census, but actually to fulfill the prophesy that the Messiah would be born in the City of David.
There was no room at the inn for them so they had to make themselves at home in a manger where Jesus Christ would be born.
There is where shepherds and kings would come to pay homage to the newborn and bring him gifts.
The humble beginnings of the child, Jesus, did not determine his future or his destiny as the Messiah.
We should take heart then that the humble beginnings of our infant country will not determine its future or its destiny as a beacon of hope for the rest of the region.
Besides, Joseph was a professional carpenter. It was, therefore, not a question of whether or not he could afford to pay for the inn.
And although Mary rode on the back of a donkey, the journey to Bethlehem could not have been a comfortable one given that she was heavy with child.
Both of them obeyed a civil decree to return to their ancestral home for the purpose of a census.
Obedience is, consequently, another lesson we learn from the story of Christmas. Obedience born of faith. Obedience of the prevailing legal dispensation.
For only then are we assured of the promised results. Mary and Joseph complied with that biblical injunction to give onto Caesar what is Caesar’s.
When we refuse to obey the law, when we conveniently manipulate the Constitution to our own advantage, what ensues is the kind of political turmoil we recently experienced on St. Maarten.
Above all, the main lesson of the story of Christmas is one of love. Divine love. Family love. Love of our neighbor which is a manifestation of our love for ourselves.
God’s decision to send His only begotten Son to die for our sins expresses His infinite love for us.
Right there in the manger, among animals, in conditions that today we would find repugnant for a human being, let alone for the King of Kings, right there in that manger, Mary gave birth without any midwife to assist her; with only her husband at hand, who, we can safely assume, knew nothing about childbirth.
The unity of the family is based on love; an enduring love that turns discomfort into warmth and affection.
The St. Maarten family has traditionally been nurtured by a similar love; a love that knew how to make do with what we had and even share that little with our neighbors.
It is that love that made us The Friendly Island. In this season of joy and of generosity of the heart, I pray that we would be able to rekindle the fire of that love again.
US President Barack Obama, speaking about the Christmas message, said: “It’s a message both timeless and universal — no matter what God you pray to, or if you pray to none at all — we all have a responsibility to ourselves and to each other to make a difference that is real and lasting.
We are our brother’s keeper. We are our sister’s keeper.”
We are, indeed, our brother’s and sister’s keeper. Let us show this more in our deeds rather than only in words.
Let us come together as one island, as one people, as one St. Maarten family with one destiny, and show love as we work to make this island what it is destined to be: a great and prosperous country with equal opportunities for all.
So, on behalf of my wife, Gabrielle and myself, my children, Ohndhae and Ihndhira and their respective families and Ighmelene and Hakeem who are home for the holidays, I want to seize this opportunity to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.
God bless you and God bless our beloved St. Maarten.