“And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.”
In the different cultural traditions and in all great religions of the world, only in Christianity did God became man and lived among his people. And this God who is the Son of God was born in a manger in the town of Bethlehem in Palestine almost 2,000 years ago.
The baby boy was the Son of God, born of the virgin named Mary who was betrothed to Joseph, a carpenter from the House of David. The boy who is the Son of God is named Jesus, he is the Emmanuel (God with us). And this event is called Christmas, which simply means the Nativity or Birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of the Father.
Thus, the followers of Jesus the Christ (the Anointed) are called Christians and every year, Christians all over the world celebrate with joyful festivities and by remembering this saving act of God when He allowed His only Son to be born and in which man’s relationship with God is restored and reconnected.
Celebrating Christmas is celebrating God’s love for humanity. Christmas is preceded by the Advent season, which culminates on Christmas Day and follows the Christmas season. Christmas is one of the great feasts of the Church (the others are Easter and Pentecost). It is the highlight of a long but joyful waiting during the Advent season. Christmas is when the Word became flesh, thus the Incarnation of the Word who is Jesus is celebrated and remembered.
Aside from the blessings and graces one receives from God as brought about by our spiritual preparations in the Advent season, Christmas is always a joyful event for every believer. We wait for this event to celebrate the love of God thru Jesus, the Savior of humankind.
What are the “should haves” during the Christmas season? We see, experience, and enjoy the external signs and symbols of this season like the Christmas tree, Christmas lanterns and other decorations, images of Santa Claus and his sleigh, Christmas gifts, Christmas carols, Christmas parties, Christmas bonus/cash gifts, among others.
But what else shall we focus on and give more significance? The things and activities enumerated come with high costs and burden us to its maxim. While we feel good when we have them, there are other things that are more important. Our personal spiritual enrichment and familial and communitarian growth and development are the more meaningful and lasting ones than these external gratifications.
Everyone has a story to tell of his/her unforgettable Christmas experience. It may be that one Christmas in the past where all the members of the family were present or reunited after long years of separation. There is a big portion of the population where families are not complete due to migration, overseas workers working abroad, or couples separating. It is always a treasure to hold and remember of that one Christmas where the family was complete. For some, Christmas is a time for the family and to be with the family.
During this season, people are focues on what gift to give and the gifts to expect. Gifts are freely given and willingly shared. They are not to be asked but offered and given in love. God is always the one who is giving us gifts, i.e. life, love, family, health, prosperity, success, dream, peace, beauty, friendship, hope, freedom, support, faith, and many more. We are recipients of God’s generosity, kindness, fidelity, and love.
What do we have to offer and give in return but also love? We give our praise and thanksgiving, our availability and dedication, our lives according to God’s standard would be our best gift this season. How can we repay the goodness of God? We can’t. But we can do something in our own little ways and with the simple things we give in love.
We have all been affected by the effects of the two recent typhoons that hit the country, especially the floods that killed people and destroyed properties. But the human spirit shall ignite and dare us to stand up and lead in the rebuilding of our families and communities. And this is what we hold on as a people. The human spirit lets us hope and brings out the best in us, including the Filipino spirit of bayanihan and malasakit. Filipinos are “mga bayani na may malasakit sa bayan,” (a people of heroes who have compassion for his or her country). The human spirit is animated by God’s spirit through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
As a people of hope, saved by Jesus, we shall journey together as one people and one nation especially in this moment of grief and wailing. Though the season came with the bleakness of typhoons Urduja and Vinta, we have Jesus—the light of the world. The new born Jesus is the Prince of Peace and the Hope of all Hopes.
This Christmas season, let us pray, reflect, and take the journey together as one people of faith and hope, united in love. With zealous hearts we take the path to peace and fullness of life. Remember, the star of Bethlehem was a star of peace and hope.
May the love of God purify everyone and abundantly enrich every Christian family as the birth of Christ is joyfully remembered and revisited. May the Incarnate Word transform us in love and hope. May the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph bless us and all the people we meet on the way.
This is our gift to God and to our brothers and sisters… our faith, our hope, and our love.
Merry Christmas and a peaceful 2018 to all!