REFLECTION: Going home for Christmas PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 28 November 2014 12:05



Yes, there’s such a beautiful song entitled, “I’ll be home for Christmas!” But I’m not going to sing that with the sentimentality it evokes so vividly. I’d like to render it in a different way, bringing it to another level. This time, I would like that we realize that Christmas, properly understood and celebrated, is where our true home is.

Thanks be to God, it’s unmistakable that the Christmas magic is already in the air. We may continue to have our usual concerns, but the place in general is now so spruced up with all kinds of Christmas signs and symbols that we cannot help but feel Christmassy inside, a mysterious phenomenon that always escapes precise and rigid description.

We are now seeing a lot of Advent wreaths in churches, offices, schools, and in many homes. Then we have Christmas lanterns and Christmas trees almost everywhere. Of course, the crèches become the centerpiece of all these signs and symbols, a product of the best imagination and creativity of their makers.

Together with these are the custom of gift-giving and the surge of festivities and celebratory events. It seems that people like to feel different in Christmas. They just like to be happy, and it’s understandable that they show this emotionally and externally.

We just have to make sure that all these activities are founded and oriented properly. They should not just be an orgy of self-indulgence, but rather a true encounter with the living Christ, a genuine expression of joy both human and divine, emotional and spiritual, natural and supernatural.

Since there is always the danger of missing the true spirit of Christmas, everyone should be reminded of what Christmas is really all about, what practical consequences and implications it has in our life.

And in whatever way we can, let us remind the others, especially those on whom we have some direct responsibility, about the true spirit of Christmas and about how to live it. Let’s hope that we all can be up to this challenge.

For priests, for example, these days are a golden opportunity to bring out the religious and spiritual foundation of this season. With gift of the gab, appropriate words and arguments, proper timing and tone, we should clearly point out why Christmas is truly joyful.

We priests can take advantage of the season of Advent, the proximate preparation for Christmas, to highlight, for example, the need for another conversion, especially through the sacrament of confession.

That’s because, as Christ himself said, there can be no greater joy in heaven than when a sinner repents. Everyone is happy when repentance is done. God is happy, the person himself is happy, and everyone else will also be happy. It’s actually a joy that no worldly allurement can rival, and it’s the joy proper of Christmas.

Let’s also take advantage of the many traditional practices of popular piety to infuse the proper spirit into them before they get emptied of it through routine and the usual dangers of indifference, blind conformism to social norms, commercialism and the like.

The lighting of the candles of the Advent wreath can be a good occasion to explain about the need to develop a true longing for our Savior. Perhaps we can make a review, in the first place, of why we need to be redeemed. I’m afraid many people, especially the young, do not know anymore why we have to be saved.

We can explain the significance of the Christmas lanterns, relating them to the stars that brightened the skies during the first Christmas, with the angels singing, attracting the attention of the shepherds, as well as the star that guided the magi to the infant Jesus.

The Christmas trees which we like to decorate lavishly should be related to the tree of death in Eden, and the tree of life, the cross, that served as the very instrument of our salvation.

The crèches should be made to evoke the organic link between love, truth and joy, on the one hand, and simplicity and the spirit of worldly detachment, on the other. They should be a strong reminder of where our true joy can be found.

Since we need little convincing for people to go to “simbang gabi” or “Aguinaldo Masses” and to have “noche buenas,” etc., let’s see to it that homilies are well prepared, the different church activities well planned, confessions and other spiritual attention facilitated.

Let’s make sure that everyone feels at home, being a member of the family of God during Christmas, with Jesus, Mary and Joseph at the center!