“So we come to the Christmas story, how there was no room at the inn so Jesus was born in the lowliest of places and laid in a manger. And in his life, He cured the sick, restored sight to the blind, and turned water into wine. Then He drove the money lenders from the temple and declared, “I give you not peace but the sword’. “(F. Sionel Jose, “Memories of Christmas past”, hindsight, The Philippine Star, December 22, 2018).
From Gaudium et Spes: “Christmas never cease proclaiming anew the wonder of Incarnation. The Son of God assumed a human nature in order to accomplish our salvation in it. Born of the Virgin Mary, he has truly been made one of us, like in us in all things except sin”.
Now the business people came into the picture. They invented Sta. Claus and other gimmicks in the celebration of Christmas. The current rule in the celebration of Christmas is to buy new things for the occasion, costly gifts for relatives and friends, a week-long feast, expensive display of giant Christmas trees and colorful decorations, and other form of merry making as long as people are compelled to spend their hard earned money and give much profit to business people. And we Filipinos have the tendency to exaggerate things that we have the longest (October to December), Christmas celebration period in the whole world! In doing so, the essence of the celebration is often lost. The focus falls on the form, not on the substance.
The December 26, 2018, headline of Manila Bulletin was: “Pope decries “insatiable greed” Focus instead on simplicity, charity and love and forego the greed, gluttony, and materialism of Christmas”. To make sharing and giving more a part of their lines, Pope Francis: “We understand that the food of life is not material riches but love, not gluttony but charity, not ostentation but simplicity. We must not lose our footing or slide into worldliness and consumerism”. That “in his sixty “Urbi et Orbi’ message, Frances makes a wish for fraternity among all people of the world.”
Thus, we say: “Enough of this runaway Christmas celebration and return to more sacred and meaningful celebration of Christmas of yesteryears that used to focus on the Holy Family in the manger – the Belen. This is when “The Word was made flesh”, when God made visible the first coming of our Lord Jesus Christ – the birth of our Savior.
This goes also to our other religious fiestas celebration especially in our poor communities or barangays. We frown on the practices of our poor fellow Filipinos to slaughter the pig they raised (that can pay for some of their daily needs when sold), cook it with “inutang na mga sahog, bigas at alak” and serve to their visitors during fiestas. In one day merriment, the poor Filipino host family is left mired in debt, after.
Tradition is fine but if it will not further impoverish our masses. There must be a better way to celebrate our fiestas. Our religious leaders, we think should, reexamine and properly guide our faithful on this matter. Why not, for instance encourage say “purok” fisting sponsored by well-off families therein? Let’s be more creative in the regard and spare our poor families from further misery.
Thus we say: “No to lavish, exaggerated, over-decorations, excesses consumerism and commercialization of Christmas celebration. No to impoverizing our masses on fiestas. Yes to simplicity and charity on these occasions as Pope Francis suggested recently.” Remember that we are talking here of the solemn celebration of the nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, “The most sacred night on which blessed Mary, the Immaculate Virgin, brought forth the Saviour for this world and in communication with those whose memory we venerate.”
The Philippines Star (December 13, 2019) front page pictured Pope Francis visiting a human-sized exhibition of a beautifully designed “Belen” (one of the 110 “Nativity Scenes” in Rome from different 40 countries). Said exhibition, per info,” is now in its 44th year being hosted by the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization – “Ganyan dapat ang focus ng ating Christmas celebration. Hindi mga nagliliwanagang matatas na puro at buildings).”
Love, we think should be the centerpoint of our Christmas celebration expressed appropriately, meaning profoundly liberating experience. Let’s therefore be more creative in our future celebration of Christmas and junk its commercialization. On the other hand, let’s be prepared to meet our Lord Jesus Christ in his second coming.
A columnist Mercedes B. Saleik recently wrote: “(Let there be) peace on earth! We can all strive for this in little and sincere and humble ways of our daily lives. And as news of good will, we can truthfully say with love in our hearts, good wide men (and women).”
We are celebrating the birthday of our Lord Jesus Christ every December 25. Question to all Christians: “Do you think our Lord Jesus Christ is happy with the way we are celebrating His natal day?” “We don’t think so. Let our churches do the needful in this regard. Reform is the key to make our Lord Jesus Christ joyful in His birthday celebration.” Di ba?”