Carvajal: Bring him back down to earth

Break Point

Two things keep the Christian world from celebrating Christmas in its true meaning. One is the big commercial event the whole Christmas season has become. And two, celebrating the birthday of a God with ritual or devotional practice instead of the birthday of the man God humbled himself to become to show us how to live truly human lives.

The commercialization of Christmas is a glaringly conspicuous reality that needs no further comment. It is quite obvious how the true spirit of Christmas is so easily lost in the glitter that now dominates our celebration of Jesus’ birthday.

What is not so obvious is how our colonial-medieval style Catholicism has effectively returned Jesus as God to heaven so we can just worship him as an inimitable perfect being. With him “up there” in heaven we can forget imitating the life of the man God had become to teach us how to cope with life’s challenges.

Like, how do you honor a friend or relative on her/his birthday? You cook the celebrant’s favorite food. You give her/his favorite toy, shirt, shoe etc. Some of us ask the celebrant what she/he wants for her/his birthday?

But we have subconsciously sent Jesus back to heaven and wished that he stayed there. In so doing, we are able to celebrate his birthday with mere ritual worship. We forget to ask him what he wants for his birthday, afraid as we are of the answer we already know: “Come follow me.” Ritual worship of the God Jesus is so much easier than imitating the man Jesus’ life-work of establishing God’s kingdom of justice and peace on earth.

On Christmas, we sing with the angels “peace to men of good will.” Yet, there can be no peace without justice. And there is no justice because we would rather worship an inimitable God than make the sacrifice of imitating his life as a man of justice, love and compassion for the “least of my brethren.”

Jesus was born a man to model how a human being should behave towards other humans and the rest of God’s creatures. But imitating his life takes a lot of personal sacrifice. Thus we like him back in heaven, on the high altar of divinity where we can just light a candle and pray to him for some favor.

(Fr. Mon Echica, in his book “Jesus for Filipinos,” opines that Cebuanos are devoted to Sto. Niño because he is a child and a God. Children usually do the bidding of elders. How convenient then for us to merely dance for a favor before a child who, being also a God, can give us anything we ask of him. You don’t really think devotees dance to vow to him that they would follow his life of love and compassion for fellow humans, do you?)

In sum, our Christmas celebrations have become an escape to a God in heaven from the man he became to teach us “the way, the truth and the life.” We sorely need to bring Jesus back to earth as a man whose life of love and compassion for victims of man’s inhumanity to man we must imitate to bring peace to earth.

Here’s to the birthday of the man God became in order to teach us how to live truly human lives. A blessed Christmas to all!


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