THE celebration of Christmas, especially in the Philippines, is surrounded by much romanticism which obscures the mystery of Christmas.
The celebration starts already in September (the first ber-month) and on Christmas day itself, December 25.
The celebration is ended. People are tired. Much is lost of the real mystery of Christmas, the mystery that the savior of the world was born, that God Himself became flesh and started to dwell among us. The tragic happenings that surrounded this event are forgotten.
On September 29, we celebrate in the liturgy the feast of the Holy Inocentes.
Hundreds of innocent children were slaughtered by Herodes, because he was afraid that he would be ousted by the new-born King.
It invites us to be mindful of the fact that the mysterious love of God envelops millions of massacred children and other hundreds of millions killed before seeing the light of day.
Through Christmas, they had all become children of God. Individuals and society responsible for this disaster suffer the consequences, but God has all destinies in hand, He knows them in advance, and no one by destroying life is able to limit God’s generosity and love.
No matter how much innocent blood the enemies of the Gospel spill, they will not be able to extinguish the Church or to block God’s plans.
On December 30, we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family.
The child Jesus was born in a stable of animals because there was no room in a boarding house for his Mother Mary to deliver the baby in her womb, the Son of God Himself.
After the baby was born, Mary and Joseph were told by the Angel that they had to flee to a foreign country where they had to stay for a long time until Herodes had died.
Then they returned to Nazareth and they put up their house there where Jesus helped his father by being a carpenter. Then started also the mission of Christ Jesus as announced in the different Gospels.
Many people wonder what Jesus did between the ages of twelve, when he was seen in the Temple, the approximate age of Jesus when he began his ministry.
False pretenders take advantage of the Gospel’s silence to speculate that Jesus went to India to learn magic and how to work miracles from the Hindu wonder workers.
Let us remember first of all, that the Gospel is not a biography of Jesus, a narration of his life from birth to death. It seeks only to tell us the most important deeds and words of Jesus by which he gives us his mission.
How much different is this celebration of Christmas from the celebration in many European countries.
I remember in Holland, we celebrated the Midnight Mass very early in the morning. We walked through the snow to the church. And in the church, the priest celebrated three Masses.
During the first Mass, we went to Communion and during the second and the third Mass, the choir and the people sang all kind of Christmas songs.
After the Midnight Mass, we went home and had an early breakfast, consisting of currant bread.
The celebration went on until New Year’s day.
In the Philippines people sing the exotic song: “I am dreaming of a white Christmas.” They never have seen snow, except, maybe, on Christmas cards. How different is the celebration of Christmas in Western countries and may be even more full of mystery.
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Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on January 03, 2017.