Two Christmas classics

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Saturday, December 21, 2013


THESE are the 92-word note that 1928 Nobel Laureate Sigrid Undest sent after she fled the Nazis. The other is a 416-word mass homily by the late Fr. Horacio de la Costa, SJ.

Undset: “And when we give each other Christmas gifts in His name, let us remember that He has given us the sun and the moon and the stars, and the earth with its forests and mountains and oceans --and all that lives and move upon them.

“He has given us all green things and everything that blossoms and bears fruit and all that we quarrel about and all that we have misused. And to save us from our foolishness, from all our sins, He came down to earth and gave us Himself."

De la Costa: “Chirstmas is when we celebrate the unexpected; it is the festival of surprise. This is the night when shepherds wake to the song of angels; when the earth has a star for a satellite; when wise men go on a fool’s errand, bringing gifts to a Prince they have not seen, in a country they do not know.... This is the night when we are told to seek our king, not in a palace, but in a stable.

"Although we have stood here, year after year, as our fathers before us, the wonder has not faded; nor will it ever fade; the wonder of that moment when we push open that little door, and enter, and entering find, a mother who is virgin, and a baby who is God.

"Chesterton said it for us all: the only way to view Christmas properly is to stand on one’s head. Was there ever a home more topsy-turvy than Christmas, the cave where Christ was born? For here, suddenly, in the very heart of earth, is heaven; down is up, and up is down; the angels look down on the God who made them, and God looks up to the things he made.

"There is no room in an Inn for Him who made room and to spare, for the Milky Way, and where God is homeless, all men are at home.

We were promised a savior, but we never dreamed God Himself would come and save us. We know that He loved us, but we never dared to think that he loved us so much as to become one of us.

"But that is the way God gives! His gifts are never quite what we expect, but always something better than we hoped for. We can only dream of things too good to be true; God has a habit of giving things too true to be false. That is why our faith is a faith of the unexpected, a religion of surprise.

"Now, more than ever, living in times so troubled, facing a future so uncertain, we need such faith. We need it for ourselves, and we need to give it to others. We must remind the world that if Christmas comes in the depths of winter, it is that there may be an Easter in the springtime.”

Merry Christmas!

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 22, 2013.

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